Archive for July 2011
Turkey Tracks: July 31, 2011
Mike, Tami, and the kiddos left Thursday morning for the two-day drive home to Charleston. We miss them already.
Miss Reynolds Georgia is so thrown off that she has pooped in the house for three days running. Here’s the kind of attention she misses from all four children:
Here’s a picture I particularly loved–taken at the Camden Amphitheater during a music concert. Wilhelmina’s hand is missing. The children were new to making clover chains and insisted I make crowns, necklaces, and ankle/wrist bracelets:
Garden Bounty pours forth. Here’s a picture of fresh-picked raspberries. The bushes are thriving on the chicken-coop bedding dressings in spring and fall.
Here’s a picture of what we picked yesterday evening–except for a large bowl of raspberries that went home with Barb Melchiskey. We got two kinds of onions–spring and bulb; the first zuke; beans–HARICOT VERTES we can’t wait to eat and Dragon’s Tongue (Heritage seed); and what is probably the last of the sweet peas you can eat right off the vine or blanche quickly–we love them on salads:
Robyn O’Brien, a former Wall Street analyst, watched in horror while her youngest child (of 4 children) experienced a food allergy attack one morning- -while eating a breakfast of waffles, eggs, and tube yogurt. The experience set O’Brien off on a journey to understand why and what she could do about it in order to protect her family.
The video is 18 FAST minutes (because it’s so interesting and informative)–and ends with the suggestion that we can all begin to make small, incremental steps toward insuring that our food supply is once again made safe.
O’Brien also has a web site that seeks to help and to inform: http://allergykidsfoundation.org.
PS: O’Brien surfaces the information that the United States has higher cancer rates than anywhere else on the planet–due mostly to our use of untested chemicals in and on our foods.
Turkey Tracks: July 24, 2011
We’re still making desserts this summer from recipes in RUSTIC FRUIT DESSERTS, Julie Richardson and Cory Schreiber: http://www.amazon.com/Rustic-Fruit-Desserts-Crumbles-Pandowdies/dp/1580089763. (A book suggested by Tara Derr.) We freeze about 20 pounds of ORGANIC wild Maine blueberries every August, which our wonderful CSA, Hope’s Edge, makes available to us. I don’t know if you’ve ever had wild Maine blueberries. They are much smaller than the big round ones most people can get in supermarkets. And, they’re chock full of flavor. Once you’ve had these little guys, the big blueberries seem utterly tasteless. So, be warned!
Now, the “wild” Maine blueberries are anything but wild. Yes, there are some wild blueberries at the edges of our woods. But, commercial wild blueberries are a wild myth! They’re heavily cultivated, actually. And in the harvest year, which is every other year, the commercial (as in NOT organic) are heavily sprayed with all sorts of heinous and poisonous pesticides and herbicides that get into the watershed (atrazine compounds)–in Maine we have a LOT of watershed–just take a look at a map of Maine–and that stay in the ground for up to 175 days, like the organophosphates often used as pesticides. Organophosphates attack an insect’s nervous system. And it remains a mystery to me why people think a compound that attacks nervous systems is NOT going to affect THEIR nervous systems–especially when it hangs around for 175 days on the ground, gets tracked into homes on shoes and clothes, and when it, often, gets INTO the plants and berries themselves and CANNOT be washed out.
Many of these chemicals kill bees and any other insect that gets in the spray, which, in turn, affects the bird population. But, since commercial bees (poor things) are trucked in from across the country to pollinate the crop BEFORE it is sprayed, it’s our LOCAL bees and hives that are at risk. (How dumb is that?) And, many of these chemicals affect a human’s endocrine system (read reproductive ability), cause birth defects, cancer, and so on. (How doubly dumb is that?) The EPA is going to render a new verdict on atrazine in the near future, and it’s already been banned in Europe.
So, if you want to try a “wild” Maine blueberry–for heaven’s sake–buy organic ones. Or come up here and pick some yourself!
Anyway, since I usually make blueberry cobblers, making a blueberry buckle was an experiment. So, far, it’s been voted the favorite dessert and has been repeated once more. (It’s GREAT for breakfast too.) It’s a rich cake, studded with blueberries and lemon, topped with a crunchy crumb topping, and drizzled with an intense lemon glaze when it’s still warm. Here’s a picture:
Here’s a better one!
Turkey Tracks: July 24, 2011
“Corinne’s Beach Braid,” A Quilt
Last February during my annual trip to Williamsburg, VA, to quilt with my Virginia quilt friends and to attend the Mid-Atlantic Quilt Show, I started a special quilt for my daughter-in-law–and new mother–Corinne–whose birthday is the day after mine. Pisces! ( And yes, we both love water.)
I used a French Braid pattern from FRENCH BRAID QUILTS, by Jane Hardy Miller and Arlene Netten, which I have long admired.
Since Corinne lives on Isle of Palms, SC, 2 blocks from the beach, I wanted to use blues, greens, and sandy colors, from light to dark–with a contrasting inner diamond of red/orange–all batiks.
To execute the pattern I picked from the book, one was supposed to pick about 10 fabrics for a run, with 2 for starting and ending triangles. (These quilts can be directional, with a run of fabrics that moves from light to dark, or vice versa.) I came home with more like 14 in total. So, the two runs together, made for a LONG narrow quilt, which I realized when I saw the first few runs actually completed. I knew I had to add two more runs at a minimum and that I would be bumping up against my long-arm machine width limit of about 83 inches.
I had used all of the orange-ish batik fabric I was using for the inner diamonds, and I was lucky enough to find it THE LAST DAY of the big quilt show in Williamsburg.
Finally, I discovered Anne Bright pantographs for the quilting and found two that had beach motifs–I ordered the one with sea horses, stars, big conch shells, and so forth for the body of the quilt, and the one with flip-flops and shells for the border–which would mean I would have to repin the quilt sides after quilting the top and bottom borders and the body of the quilt to get at the side borders. You can see Anne Bright’s web site at http://www.annebright.com/shop/category/store/paper-pantographs/.
So, here’s the finished quilt across the end of the bed:
And, here it is from out upper front porch–in bright sun which has distorted the colors. John and valient Talula (tiny hands on the left) are holding it. You can just about make out the flip-flop pattern on the bottom border.
Several long-arm quilters strongly suggested that I use a poly thread–So Fine–for the bobbin thread. As it is fine, a bobbin goes a long way. And, So Fine seems to make the top, cotton thread stand up. But, the downside, I discovered, is that the elaborate patterns I used on the body of the quilt and on the borders and the stitch-in-the-ditch I did so well do not show on the back of the quilt at all. See:
Here are some close-ups of some of the braids:
I really love this quilt, and I’d love to make more with the French Braid pattern. It’s a fun pattern to do and would lend itself to all kinds of interesting color schemes and fabrics. From now on though, I’m remaining an all-cotton girl!
When someone asks me how to start changing their food consumption habits, I usually recommend NOURISHING TRADITIONS, Sally Fallon Morrell and Dr. Mary Enig, both of the Weston A. Price Foundation–which also has a really good web site.
But, this past year, the WAPF came out with a very short little book–their answer to the travesty of the USDA’S food guide, whose formation is driven by the market–not science–and which is guaranteed to make you sick. I really like this little book. It’s an excellent and easy guide to changing your life. NOURISHING TRADITIONS is an amazing book and is chock full of information, so that would be the next place to go in your journey.
WAPF will send you HEALTHY 4 LIFE for about $12. They also have a great shopping guide and lots of informative pamphlets on soy (really bad), raw milk, and so forth.
In addition, Dr. Nancy Irven, after working with high school students, published PLEASE DON’T EAT THE WALLPAPER, available at amazon.com at least for about $14 as I recall. Irven’s goal is to get students to own their own health and diet by first understanding why high fructose corn syrup, white flour, and trans fats are really bad sugar, glue, and plastic. Get those three out of the diet, she explains, and the other bad additives, etc., drop out with them. Irven has a light touch and funny sense of humor, and the high school program she’s been working with on diet has been highly successful.
In short, there’s so much really bad information out there that teenagers, who are often adrift on their own in terms of food anyway, don’t know what to eat. Since this same condition is true for many Americans, Irven’s little book is useful for all ages.
Turkey Tracks: July 13, 2011
Maine Summer Pictures July 2011
Time is flying by so fast. We have hit our summer groove. Up early. Breakfast. Chores (pick the garden, pick the strawberries and raspberries, water plants, change sheets, organize food, wash clothes, etc.). Fun activity (swimming most days now, hiking, a trip to somewhere fun). Lunch. Quiet time. More play. Dinner. More play. Bedtime rituals (baths, stories). Sleep.
Here are some pictures I’ve been too busy to post:
On July 4th weekend, we all went to a charming outdoor bell concert, courtesy of the St. Luke Concert Handbell Choir, from Gales Ferry, CT. The choir was made up of high school students. They let our kiddos try out a small hand-chime each.
Here are Kelly and Wilhelmina listening to one of the choir’s selections:
Here is a picture of one side of our amazingly beautiful Camden Library amphitheater where moss and wild strawberries grow in the cracks of the steps:
Here are two girly indians and two girly dogs hard at play:
Pop and “the crew” took apart the garden bench and repainted all the metal:
Tami took this picture of “the hikers,” most with a walking stick from the woods:
We got rhubarb in our CSA the first week, so I saved it for when the kiddos came. We made a rhubarb cake that was delicious from a recipe in RUSTIC FRUIT DESSERTS, Julie Richardson and Cory Schreiber: http://www.amazon.com/Rustic-Fruit-Desserts-Crumbles-Pandowdies/dp/1580089763. (A book suggested by Tara Derr.) I don’t mind making a cake like this one upon occasion when I’m using fruit, real butter, really good eggs, and a limited amount of sugar and white flour.
Finally, here’s a picture of our sugar snap peas putting out the goods. Often, the children eat them raw as fast as I can pick them.
This little video, done by a child after an experiment, speaks to why you do not want to eat commercial potatoes in any form.
Do take a look?
Here’s a site discussing the video and chlorpropham, the chemical at issue. According to PAN (Pesticide Action Network), it is toxic to bees and retards growth in animals–and can kill them.
Interesting Information: July 9, 2011
GMO Foods Have Not Been Tested Properly
Philip Bereano, PhD, is a professor emeritus at the University of Washington and an engaged activist concerning genetically modified (GM) foods. I saw this quote from him in the July/August 2011 issue of Well Being Journal and tracked down the whole interview, which is on Dr. Joseph Mercola’s web site: http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2011/04/02/dr-philip-bereano-on-gmos.aspx.
Bereano said the following:
The problem with calling genetically engineered organisms safe is that there are no valid risk assessments being done on them. There is no research, really, being done into the health or environmental effects of a genetically engineered organism. Certainly no work that is published in the open peer-reviewed literature, or that isn’t proprietary. Corporations promoting these things claim that they have done research, but you can’t get any information on it because it’s all claimed to be proprietary.
The whole interview is worth a scan because Bereano is arguing that what is coming clear is that there is a deliberate corporate strategy being carried out with government help to corner the markets on seeds and to drive organic farmers out of the market by the simple process of contamination.
Don’t scream “conspiracy theory” because while there may be some conspiracy going on here, what’s really occuring is the normal working of the logic of unfettered capitalism–which seeks to control all markets, to drive out all competitors, and to colonize any part of the economy so that it functions as a profit center.
Bereano addressed the claims that GMO foods can “feed the world” and that they are cheaper and shows that neither claim is true.
In May 2009, the American Academy of Environmental Medicine called for a ban on the use of GMO foods: http://www.aaemonline.org/gmopressrelease.html. Members are seeing increasing levels of serious health problems they believe to be connected to GMO foods.
What’s really disturbing is that GM foods don’t have to be labeled–which is another argument for buying local from people you trust. Be especially careful with corn–especially corn chips. Be sure to choose organic corn chips. And do take a moment to read about this issue so that you understand what is at stake for you and your beloveds.
Interesting Information: July 9, 2011
Vanilla Ice Cream
COOKS ILLUSTRATED, May/June 2010, investigated vanilla ice cream. Nationwide, there are nearly 40 brands of vanilla ice cream. CI chose the eight top-selling brands and taste-tested those. The winner was Ben & Jerry’s Vanilla. Next came Haagen-Dazs, Wells blue Bunny, Breyers, Friendly’s, Blue Bell, and Turkey Hill. Edy’s Grand Vanilla was not recommended.
The criteria included what kind of vanilla was used (natural or synthetic); the tricky business of using stabilizers like carob gum, guar gum, tara gum, and carrageenan (the winner uses two); how much air is pumped into the ice cream to expand volume; and what kind of sweetener is used.
Edy’s, for instance, is a big package with lots of air, while Ben & Jerry’s is a small package with lots of ice cream. Between the two, Ben & Jerry’s is a POUND heavier than Edy’s, even in the smaller package.
And ice creams using corn syrup tasted “`unnaturally sweet,’ “ no matter the sugar levels.
Testers discovered that “keeping it simple” produced the best vanilla ice cream: cream, milk, sugar, eggs, real vanilla, and a minimum of emulsifiers made the best ice cream.
Homemade Vanilla Ice Cream
You can keep it even simpler: get a pint of some real/raw heavy cream, add 2 or 3 egg yolks (keep the whites for macaroons or meringues) , some real vanilla extract, a tablespoon of healthy arrowroot for creaminess, some maple syrup or honey for sweetness, put it into one of those quart ice cream makers you keep frozen in the freezer, and you have delicious and healthy ice cream in about 20 minutes!
You can also make food processor ice cream out of cream or yogurt and frozen fruit. That recipe is on the blog in July 2010.
Interesting Information: July 9, 2011
A friend gives me her COOKS ILLUSTRATED magazines when she finishes them. The May/June issue had an article on Greek yogurt I found interesting.
I knew that Greek yogurt was just yogurt with a lot of the whey drained out of it. Anyone can make it, and the leftover whey is an amazing substance that is full of enzymes that help digestion. A tablespoon of whey in a bit of water before a meal can really help digestion and can begin restoring probiotics in the gut. You can also freeze it and use the ice cubes in smoothies, put it in soups, and so forth. And, of course, there is a whole foodway of lacto-fermented foods made with whey that are chock full of enzymes. Sauerkraut is an example, and there is a recipe for it in the recipe section of this blog.
I always thought that whey had a lot of protein, so I was skeptical about draining off the whey. However, COOKS ILLUSTRATED says that whey does not have that high a protein content, so what’s being lost by draining some off to make a thicker yogurt is “only” the enzyme and mineral content of the whey. (What remains is high in protein.) If one uses the whey in other ways, no substantial harm is done–unless you are buying the yogurt and are never getting the whey. (I’m guessing the whey is used to make that dried whey protein powder which, like all dried liquids, has been harmed by the drying process.) Anyway, do note that you are now dealing with a whole product that has been splintered into parts–which is not a good thing to do as the whole contains all that you need to digest and use the product most effectively.
The market has “caught on” to Greek yogurt and is busily trying to make a buck on it. So, buyer beware. Read the labels to see what’s been added to what should just be yogurt with the whey drained off. Many manufacturers are getting the creamy thickness of Greek yogurt (as they are with regular yogurt) by using thickeners like pectin, gelatin, seaweed, and milk protein concentrate. These yogurts (Yoplait and The Greek Gods are examples) also have considerably higher levels of carbohydrates than other brands, and we are learning, together I hope, that carbohydrates are the root cause of many chronic diseases in America.
Unfortunately, COOKS ILLUSTRATED bought into the belief system that fat is not good, so they tested nonfat yogurts. (One needs fat to digest protein.) CI liked Olympus Nonfat Greek Yogurt the best. It is imported from Greece. they recommend Voskos, Brown Cow, Dannon, Oikos, and Fage. Chobani was recommended with reservations. And Athenos, Yoplait, and The Greek Gods were not recommended at all.
For me, the best bet is to make your own yogurt from whole real/raw milk. If you want to make Greek yogurt or, even, some yogurt cheese, drain off some or all of the whey. But, be sure to use the whey in some other ways in your diet.
If you must buy yogurt, which would be made with pasteurized milk, seek out a whole milk, cream-line one with no additives. There are still a few left out there.