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A Perfect Rainy Sunday

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After breakfast this morning, we headed out for a Sunday morning walk, before the rain came, which turned into a long hike around our property. Zoey and I stopped to eat some ripe, red manzanita berries while Stephen was up ahead carrying Zane. All of our mud boots/rain boots earned their name today with all the mud we trudged through. I had to pull Stephen’s rain boot out of the mud on one hill because he had his hands full with Zane, and I could barely pull it out with two hands.

I made zucchini bread after lunch. Here’s the  zucchini bread recipe I found. I didn’t eat it because it has flour, and I didn’t put the chocolate chips in it, but the kids seemed to like it. We all took a nap except for Zoey, except she did lay down for about an hour reading and singing to Zane from the book Love You Forever by Robert Munsch. Once Zane finally fell asleep, Zoey and I did yoga together in the living room while the boys slept.

I’m waiting for our beef stew to finish cooking for dinner. I made these biscuits. I haven’t been writing much on the blog or just in general perhaps because my work week is spent typing on the computer when I’m not seeing clients. Documentation for Medi-Cal can be brutal. I try to avoid spending time in front of the computer as much as possible at night and on the weekends. But today I felt like writing again. Yesterday the kids and I went to the children’s museum that is an hour away because I had to pick up my glasses from Costco. They played outside climbing the cedar tree (anyone good at tree identification?) while I ate my lunch.

I’m taking Friday off for my birthday, which is Saturday. I’ll be 39. Zoey keeps asking–“which is older? 65 or 39?” Maybe depends on how you feel? I’m not sure how 39 is supposed to feel, but I’m happy to be alive to enjoy Sundays like today.


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Blackberry Pie Take 2

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Remember that blackberry pie I made last year when I omitted the sugar because I thought the berries were sweet enough on their own? Well, we went blackberry picking on our ranch this morning, and I thought I’d redeem myself by making a sweet blackberry pie today. The verdict? Zoey and Stephen liked it. Zane spit it out. If you know anything about the Cowan family, know that if a dessert is not sweet enough, they would be able to tell. So I count this as a success because my dear husband said it was sweet. And in case you’re wondering, I used Marilyn Batali’s Blackberry Pie recipe from Food & Wine. I didn’t have shortening so I used butter, but otherwise I didn’t make any other substitutions. Too bad I couldn’t eat any of it (gluten, dairy, white sugar!).

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The Oak and the Acorn

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At my last herbal class we learned how to crack, pound, leach, and eat acorns. My teacher Donna made us acorn pate. Below is the recipe in case you live near any oak trees and want to go out to collect some acorns for food. All acorns are edible but you’ll need to leach them first to remove the tannins.  An easy way to leach is to first grind up the acorns in a blender (after you have cracked them open). A Vitamix works great. Then put the acorn meal in a quart size glass mason jar and cover with water. Put jar in refrigerator and every day for about a week, pour off the darkened water off the top and add fresh water. The acorn meal will settle to the bottom, but be careful not to pour this off, too. After the acorn meal is done leaching (water looks clear), then you can either add it to a food you will cook or you can simmer the acorn meal for about 15 minutes.

Donna d’Terra’s Acorn Pate

Mix 1 cup acorn (leached, cooked, strained, cooled) with mayonnaise until it is a “spreadable” consistency. Fold in some or all of these (chopped fine): scallions or red onion, celery, basil/cilantro/parsley, toasted sesame or toasted sunflower seeds
Add to taste: lemon juice or balsamic vinegar, tamari, salt, or pepper
Serve on crackers

I haven’t made this recipe yet. I just enjoyed it in class along with the acorn mush that Corine Pearce, a local Pomo teacher and speaker shared with my class. Now is the time to go out and collect acorns off the ground. Discard the ones with a black spot or hole.  According to Donna, acorns are high in protein, vitamin A and C, amino acids, and high quality fats. Also good to know, you can store acorns for years in a glass jar before you are ready to cook them. So if you’re looking for a cool new appetizer to bring to your next holiday party, this recipe might do the trick!


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Getting Distracted By Cats

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As we were walking back to the house last night after watching the starling show, Zoey said, “I keep getting distracted by cats.” The cats Lester and Solo were following us back to the house and Zoey was focusing on walking down the hill so as not to slip.

I keep getting distracted by the dirty dishes that need cleaning, the dirty clothes in the hamper that need washing, the bathroom sink that needs cleaning, and the dirty floor that needs vacuuming. A distraction, yet not enough to motivate me to actually do anything about it. Let me explain. A few weeks ago as I was folding the clean clothes to put away, I realized I haven’t had stain remover in over a year. There is usually a stain on at least one family member’s clothing at least once a wash. I see the stain and regret that I did nothing about it. And then I remember–I have no stain remover. After that light bulb went off, I finally wrote stain remover on my grocery list so I would stop wondering why other people don’t have stains on their clothes like we do. What is that? I think I am a hard worker most days, but the simplest things like cleaning a bathroom sink or buying stain remover seem like mountains I have to move.

Instead of cleaning up today, I made pickled green tomatoes and left an overripe cantaloupe on the counter only to see a swarm of fruit flies attacking it about 30 minutes later. Here’s the recipe for the pickled green tomatoes from Martha Stewart’s Living Magazine. It was a recent issue–maybe September.  Don’t make these if you don’t like vinegar because they are very vinegary, but tasty in a salad or probably in a sandwich though I wouldn’t know about that firsthand.

Pickled Green Tomatoes from Living Magazine

1.5 c. apple-cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. whole black peppercorns
1/2 tsp. coriander seeds
3 whole allspice berries
2 dried bay leaves
salt

4 small green tomatoes (1 pound), cut into 1/4 inch slices (I then cut slices in half), plus 6 thin slices white onion

Combine vinegar, 3/4 c. water, sugar, spices, and 2 Tbsp salt (I did teaspoons) in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Fill clean containers tightly with vegetables. Add boiling brine to cover completely. Let cool completely. Cover, label, and refrigerate at least 1 week before serving, or up to 3 months.


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The Beginnings of a Garden and a Recipe

DSC_0070In the past few weeks since my first herbal class at the Motherland Botanical Sanctuary, I find myself walking around the ranch slowly taking in all the plants, weeds, and flowers–really seeing them as if for the first time. Mostly I just recognize dandelions and yellow dock. The other plants growing wildly here are still a mystery to me. After each class session I’ll be bringing home some herbs to plant. This past month I brought home feverfew, day lily, and lemon balm which hopefully will get planted this week.

DSC_0072Here’s a close-up of the 4′ x 8′ raised garden beds Stephen made out of redwood. Six of the 15 are made so far.

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Here’s a close-up of the 6′ garden fence with chicken coop wire on the bottom and larger wire on the top to keep the wild pigs, deer, and hopefully other wildlife out. Unfortunately I think Lester our barn cat will be able to jump on the fence and into the garden.

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As I mentioned last year when we had our backyard garden, Stephen and I are beginning gardeners, so who knows how this first real adventure in gardening will turn out. I’ll try to remember to show you how our garden is progressing through the spring and summer months. The good, bad, and ugly but hopefully not too much of the latter two.

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Be Calm Herbal Tea

3 tsp. Lemon Balm
1 tsp. Hibiscus
2 tsp. Chamomile

Bring a quart of water to boil. Pour over herbs and cover to brew 10-20 minutes. Strain out herbs and enjoy!


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Chicken Apricot Curry and Indian Spices and Me

On my 21st birthday my friends took me out for dinner to an Indian restaurant in New Haven. I didn’t grow up eating Indian food. Growing up through the years I’ve had people who don’t know me tell me that I look Indian, which is ironic that all these years I’ve had a strong distaste for Indian food. That birthday dinner was the first time I ate Indian spices like turmeric. I don’t recall what I actually ate that night, but I do remember walking away telling my friends I enjoyed the food while really thinking the smell and the taste of Indian food made me sick. I’m pretty sure there may be some friends I haven’t seen in a while that think I really like Indian food. Since that time, I have tried Indian food again and again at various restaurants hoping maybe this time will be different. But it never was until recently when I learned how turmeric is a great anti-inflammatory spice. So as many of you know that I am a bit obsessed right now about healing inflammation in my colon, I’ve found that I suddenly can tolerate the smell and taste of curry.

Tonight I made Christina Feindel’s Chicken Apricot Curry which is an AIP (Auto-Immune Protocol) dish, but one that anyone can enjoy with rice if you eat rice. I ate it with Melissa Joulwan’s broccoli salad from her e-book Well Fed 2. Stephen and the kids, (or I should say “the kid” because Zane obviously did not partake) ate Sloppy Joes and then went for a walk while I was left to enjoy my own dinner. Thank you Stephen for a quiet dinner to myself. If anyone doubts that this little 5’1” gal can put away food in her belly, just take a look at the photos below.

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Yep, I ate half the pan of chicken curry and half the bowl of broccoli salad all by myself.


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Bacon Sweet Potato Salad

Last year my mother-in-law gave me Madge Baird’s cookbook “101 Things To Do With Apples.” I am only now getting around to trying out some of the recipes in there.  Tonight we had the slow cooker apple-cider pot roast.  I made the apple cider yesterday from our orchard apples. Today though I wanted to share another recipe from the cookbook which I adapted to be Autoimmune Protocol friendly.  I’ll share the original recipe and then my adapted version in italics.  I really liked my version, but I imagine the original tastes just as good.  I’m not one to remember to photograph food I’ve made–so you’ll just have to use your imagination as to what it looked like.

Madge Baird’s Bacon Potato Salad

1/2 pound bacon, diced
5 medium-size red potatoes (sweet potatoes)
3 large crisp apples, peeled and cored
1/3 cup chopped red onion
2 ribs celery, chopped
1/3 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (omitted)
salt and pepper to taste

Dressing:

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 oil (coconut oil)
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper (omitted)
1 teaspoon thyme leaves
1 tablespoon honey mustard (omitted mustard, just used honey)

In a large frying pan, cook bacon until crisp; set aside.

Boil whole potatoes about 30-40 minutes, until fork-tender then drain and let cool. (Peel and cube sweet potatoes. Cook in water on medium heat until fork-tender.) Peel and cube potatoes. Place in large bowl.

Cut apples into chunks and add to potatoes.  Add onion, celery, and bell pepper.  Season with salt and pepper.

In a separate bowl, whisk dressing ingredients together until emulsified.  Pour dressing over salad and toss to coat.  Makes 8-10 servings.

This is Day 7 of the Write 31 Days series.  You can find my other posts in the series here.