Turkey Tracks: Elver Eels Per Pound

Turkey Tracks:  April 10, 2013

Elever Eels Per Pound

Ok, so I know more about Elever eels.

First, they sell for a whopping $2000 a pound.

Second, they are tiny, tiny when caught here in the spring–like a piece of angel hair pasta.

Third, they are coming from the bay and are trying to go up the river.  They are likely coming from the Sargasso Sea area.  At this stage they are called glass eels as they are translucent.

Forth, they are sold live and raised to be big before being eaten.

The $2000 explains why people are being fined for netting them without having proper permits.

Turkey Tracks: Dogs Being Dogs

Turkey Tracks:  April 7, 2013

Dogs Being Dogs

First, watch this video I took the other day outside Boynton McKay, a favorite lunch and/or coffee spot here in Camden, Maine.  Local people often tie their dogs outside, where they wait patiently for their owners to eat.  The lighter lab I see frequently.  S/he behaves impeccably to passers-by.

So, what you have here is dogs doing what dogs do.  I didn’t see the second, dark lab as I came toward Boynton McKay.  But surely the woman walking the dog did.  So,what you have is TWO dogs waiting outside.  TWO equals trouble.  They will now back each other up.  Add in that they are feeling insecure because their owner is inside and they are in that big wide open world outside all alone.   Add in a third dog, a big dog, too, and you get…what you see in the video.  Even the best of dogs will behave this way.

Lesson:  if you are walking a dog and come upon TWO tied dogs outside of a store, give them a wide berth.  Stop above them as well and speak reassuringly to them.

Interesting Information: BAG IT: Paper or Plastic?

Interesting Information:  April 7, 2013

BAG IT:  Paper or Plastic?

Assuming I’m not carrying my own bags, I’ve never been sure which bag to ask for–paper or plastic.  I’ve read arguments for both.

After watching the 2010 documentary BAG IT,  I’m now sure.  Ask for PAPER.

Why?  Paper degrades in landfills, can be recycled, is often recycled already, and gets recycled/reused ten times more than plastic bags.

BAG IT explores the above question by using an everyday, normal “everyman” who is seeking an answer to the paper/plastic question.

Here’s a synopsis from the web site:

Americans use 60,000 plastic bags every five minutes–single-use disposable bags that we mindlessly throw away. But where is “away?”   Where do the bags and other plastics end up, and at what cost to our environment, marine life and human health? Bag It follows   “everyman” Jeb Berrier as he navigates our plastic world. Jeb is not a radical environmentalist, but an average American who decides  to take a closer look at our cultural love affair with plastics.  Jeb’s journey in this documentary film starts with simple questions:   Are plastic bags really necessary? What are plastic bags made from? What happens to plastic bags after they are discarded? Jeb looks  beyond plastic bags and discovers that virtually everything in modern society–from baby bottles, to sports equipment, to dental sealants, to personal care products–is made with plastic or contains potentially harmful chemical additives used in the plastic-making process.   When Jeb’s journey takes a personal twist, we see how our crazy-for-plastic world has finally caught up with us and what we can do about it.   Today. Right now.

Here are some of the ideas I took away from the movie:

Plastic bags were created to be thrown away, but they don’t go away.  Plastic doesn’t break down in land fills.  Much of today’s plastic finds its way into our oceans, the life blood of this planet, where it is creating huge, floating toxic soups that ocean critters are eating, and, then, dying.  If we eat these fish, we are getting some of the chemicals they have ingested.  We are bombarded all day long with chemicals.  Tiny amounts of these chemicals can cause endocrine system disruptions that have radical repercussions for us, especially around reproduction and cancer formation.  Chemicals are changing how our children are constructed.  The sperm counts in males is dropping dramatically these days.

Plastic bags came about through the concept of “disposable living.”  They are meant to be used once and thrown away.

Plastic bags are being banned across the world.  But, the American plastic industry is suing towns that try to create laws that ban plastic the shopping bags.  The American Chemistry Council leads this effort.

Bottled water is one of the biggest plastic problems in the environment.

We are using enormous amounts of energy creating new goods that we are sending on a one-way trip to a landfill.  Landfills are contaminating our groundwater.  So simplify.  Try to recycle, reuse, repurpose, or do without.

One of the biggest scams in recycling plastic is that while some of us separate our trash by the numbers on the bottom of the plastic, only Numbers 1 & 2 get recycled routinely.  The rest of the numbers just make us think something is being done with the rest of the plastic trash.

Start checking labels on all kinds of products, especially body-care products.  Many are oil based.

Our grandparents didn’t have all these products.

The movie promotes some steps each of us can take:

Cut back on single-use disposable products.

Don’t drink bottled water.

Bring your own container.

Remove packaging in stores.

Choose products with less packaging.

Buy used.

Buy less “stuff.”

Simplify your life.

Remember that nature solves problems.  If we are a problem, nature is certainly going to solve us.


Where am I on this journey?

The two oil-based plastic products I have not been able to let go of are plastic wrap and plastic bags.  So that’s my new goal.  I can use glass containers, use plates on top of bowls in the refrigerator, use cheese cloth to wrap produce, and so forth.  I’ll start by not buying new bags or new rolls of plastic.

I don’t use oil-based cosmetics.  I use a waxy natural lipstick, coconut oil for moisture, and don’t do all the skin foundation cosmetic stuff.  (Healthy vibrant skin comes from eating healthy, nutrient dense foods.)  I have natural shampoos and conditioners.  I use baking soda and salt, flavored with an essential oil of peppermint or lemon, for toothpaste.

I’ve been successful at not using aluminum foil, which is terribly toxic.  Parchment paper works fine for baking or topping a dish I’m taking somewhere.

I hardly ever use paper napkins or paper towels.  But I do, some.  The napkins are mostly for guests since they seem to panic if we don’t have them.  Bacon grease in the cast-iron frying pan is where I’m likely to use paper towels.  I could use newspaper…  I’ll try that.  And newspaper could also clean glass…  The rest of the cleaning could be done with rags.

But, there’s still toilet paper…

Anyway, I invite you to join me on this journey.  Do it for the children you love.

Turkey Tracks: Current Projects

Turkey Tracks:  April 6, 2013

Current Projects

Spring is on the move, but we’ve had a chilly, if sunny, week.

One of my current projects is to practice taking more videos in order to learn what works and what doesn’t.  I erased quite a few for various reasons.  One reason is that it is very hard to hold the cameras steady.  Here’s one of the Camden Harbor at low tide, with the spring-full river pouring into it.  At high tide, the water would rise to a foot or two below the docks.  The wind is high and the noise of it and of the river interferes a bit with what I’m saying.

It’s elver season, and people trap them at the mouths of rivers–as near as I can determine.  Elvers are little eels that fetch the most astonishing prices per pound.  These little guys are sold alive to the Japanese, mostly, who then raise them to be much bigger before eating them.

Have you ever eaten eel?  It’s delicious actually.  You could try it in a sushi restaurant.  It’s cooked with a sweet sauce of some sort.

Anyway, here’s the video:

I’ve almost finished a pair of socks for my sister-in-law, Maryann Enright.  She chose the yarn just before John died.  We had a nice visit one day around early December to our newest yarn shop in Rockland, Maine, called Over The Rainbow.  It’s a fabulous yarn shop, and we are so lucky to have it.  I think these socks might be a bit wilder than Maryann imagined, but she will rise to the occasion with them.  The yarn does not have black in it, but deep navy and dark plum and a tiny bit of dark brown.

Maryann's socks

I am working on an applique quilt made with big blocks of green turtles.  I have not done any applique in some time and am very slow at it, so I refreshed my skills (ha! that’s a joke) with this little Easter Card for Maryann–in a class at Coastal Quilters taught by Barb Melchiskey, who is a master appliquer.  If I were doing this card again, I’d chose either a colored card or a colored background.  The two whites aren’t working so well together, and I don’t like the lines running away from the eggs.  But the eggs!  Ah, the eggs.  Perfect for this very eggy household.

Egg Applique

The turtle applique quilt will get a lot of quilting to bring out texture in the blocks–on the domestic machine.  But, here’s one block ready to go.  Now I need to do more.  I have not decided whether to do 6 or 9 blocks…

Green Turtle block

What is really drawing me is the scrap quilt taking shape on the design wall.  This one calls me from other rooms to work on it.  I have fallen in love with Bonnie Hunter and ALL of her books:  LEADERS AND ENDERS, SCRAPS AND SHIRTTAILS I AND II, and STRING FLING.  She embodies the kind of work I love best to do–make functional quilts that people can curl up under or into and use as much of the stash fabrics as possible.

Bonnie’s motto is reuse, repurpose, recycle.  She has a monthly column in QUILTMAKERS and her web site is awesome.  There must be 50 free quilting patterns on that web site.  She’s coming in May to our state guild, Pine Tree Quilting Guild, on May 5th, and I will be there to see her quilts and meet her, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

Bonnie Hunter also promotes Victoria Findlay Wolfe’s new book:  15 MINUTES OF PLAY , which is so much fun.  Both Hunger and Wolfe are having way too much fun with their quilts, and both employ string piecing methods to great advantage and fun in their quilts.

Anyway, Hunter uses a method that I really like.  She cuts any pieces of fabric in her stash smaller than a fat quarter, or at the biggest, a half yard, into strips:  3 1/2 inches, 2 1/2 inches, 2 inches, 1 1/2 inches.  (I also cut 5 inches as I have rather a lot of those now and want to make a broken dishes block with them.)  These measurements work well together.  She divides these strips into light and dark piles.  When she starts a project, she’s already done a lot of cutting.  And she can cut the strips further down with rulers, like the Easy Angle ruler, into the shapes she wants.  (She also likes the Tri Rec ruler set.)  I’ve been using the Easy Angle ruler, and it makes PERFECT half square triangles, as long as you have an accurate 1/4 inch sewed seam.

This quilt started using Bonnie’s method described in LEADERS AND ENDERS, where you keep a basket next to your machine with some block parts in it–like two-inch squares.  When you would need to cut thread on another project, instead, you just feed a light and dark set of squares through the machine and cut off the piece you wanted to free on the back side of the needle.   In no time, you have a pile of sets of two squares sewn together.  You can finger press those and sew them to another set for a four-square–and so on.


Here’s what happened in short order at my sewing machine–the idea came from Hunter’s LEADERS AND ENDERS.  And it’s putting a real hurt on my green stash fabrics!!!!  I’m no longer just piecing squares  through the machine while working on another project.  I’m making time to make as many blocks as I can.

Quilt in Progress

Here’s the block:  a form of a Jacob’s Ladder block, depending on where you locate the dark and light of the half-square triangles.

Quilt block

I iron the half-square triangle blocks along the way, but I don’t iron the whole block until I’ve finished it.  I’ve had to trim up very, very few of them.  All have been a bit too big–with stretching from ironing mostly I think.  None have been too small.  Most are perfect.

The squares quickly overflowed from the basket as I cut into my stash.

Quilt squares

The basket got filled with half-square triangle pieces:

Quilt triangles

And I have a pile of strips all cut and ready to be cut further–and separated by value–so Bonnie is right that just a bit of cutting each day delivers a lot of sewing for days to come.  She also says that she groups medium and dark values together and relies on the REALLY light fabrics to create contrast in a quilt like this one.

Quilt strips

I finished and mailed a beautiful quilt for a beautiful bride, Ashley Malphrus, who will be married in Charleston later this month.  I will put up pictures when I get home from Charleston, and the bride has seen the quilt.  But I am delighted with it.

So, I will leave you with this picture:  the last bouquet of flowers from our CSA, Hope’s Edge, last summer.  Those days are coming around again.  Look at all that green in the windows.

Hope's Edge, last boquet, Sept. 2012

Interesting Information: Homing Bees

Interesting Information:  April 2, 2013

Homing Bees

Old friends Leighton and Tara Derr Web are working with bee master Tamara Kelly Enright (my daughter-in-law) to start ten hives on Deux Peuces Farm in Awendaw, SC.

Leighton oversaw the building of the ten hives.  Here’s Tami trying her hand at cutting some of the hive wood:

And here are Tami and Leighton “homing” the 50,000 bees in the ten hives.  Tami is setting up a hive by installing the pieces which the bees will use to build the interior of the hive.  I presume Tara is the photographer.

Tami’s honey is called “Talula Bee Honey,” and it is highly prized in the Charleston, SC, area.

And you can see much more information about Tara and Leighton and their farm on THE FARMBAR web site, which is linked on this blog.  See the right sidebar to click over to The Farmbar.  There are some gorgeous articles and pictures on The Press section of Tara’s blog.

Turkey Tracks: Beaver Dam

Turkey Tracks:  April 2, 2013

Beaver Dam

I’ve been fascinated with the beaver dam at the foot of Howe Hill, where we live.

Below our house is a wetland that is fed by the stream that runs just beyond the wood line that flanks our house.  Our stream feeds into a stream that runs through culverts under the road intersection below our house where Howe Hill Road meets Molyneaux Road.

Across Molyneaux Road is another wet land that feeds into the larger stream that runs all along Molyneaux Road and gets fed from yet another stream a bit further along that comes down from the higher elevations up Howe Hill.

Anyway, there has been a beaver dam all winter controlling the wetland stream across Molyneaux Road.  Now, though, with the spring melt-off, there is a little waterfall over the dam.

Beaver Dam

I stopped today to take a video so you can hear the rushing sound of the water–a familiar sound these days as water is pouring off all the mountains.

Mainely Tipping Points: Part IV: The American Soy Products

Part IV:  The American Soy Products


As established in Part I, my soy expert is Kaayla T. Daniel, PhD, CCN, the author of THE WHOLE SOY STORY:  THE DARK SIDE OF AMERICA’S FAVORITE HEALTH FOOD (2005).  Daniel’s credentials, experience, and extensive research on soy make her an expert.  Part II explains how soy, which has significantly potent chemicals that can harm human health, got into the human food chain.  Part III discusses the traditional soy products and how they are different from industrialized soy products.  All quotes are from THE WHOLE SOY STORY.  


* * *

The American soy industry could not make much money from “the good old soys”—traditionally made, fermented miso, tempeh, natto, and soy sauce.  Not enough people consumed these soy products.  So, the soy industry tried, first, to produce and sell soy products made from the whole soy bean:  soy nuts and soy nut butter, soy grits, and soy flour.

Roasted soy nuts have to be heavily flavored with sugar, salt, and additives like MSG to be palatable, which is also true for soy nut butter.  With a high oil component, soy grits go rancid easily; harbor the many dangerous, unmediated chemicals found in soy; and taste “beany” (79-84). 

Soy flour proved to be more profitable, but difficult to handle.  Again, the exposed oils turn rancid easily, and the taste is bitter.  Nevertheless, soy flour can replace from one-fourth to one-third of regular flour before affecting taste.  Soy flour is used as an egg and nonfat milk solids substitute.  Soy flour can “moisten the final product, helping retain the illusion of freshness.”  So, soy flour saves “bakers bundles of money.” Note that small amounts of soy flour do not have to be labeled, so most commercial breads contain it (81).      

These whole-bean soy products did not address the burgeoning problem of how to turn the waste products from soy-bean oil manufacture into profit.  So the soy industry developed second-generation products.    

Soy “analogues” attempt to replace existing and familiar dairy and meat products.  Taste is improved, but “combining better taste with a health claim” works even better to offset consumer resistance.  Daniel’s book, however, debunks the soy industry’s claims that industrialized soy products are healthy.      

Soy milk and the analogue products derived from it (soy cheese, puddings, ice creams, yogurts, cottage cheese, and whipped cream), together with the health claims for soy,  prove to be more profitable.  But, the industrial production process for soy milk destroys key nutrients and may produce a toxin, lysinoalanine. 

Taste, however, continues to be a problem.  Soy milk tastes terrible and has a bitter aftertaste.  Thus, even “plain” soy milk is sweetened.  Additionally, the soy industry fortifies soy milk with “calcium, vitamin D and other vitamins and minerals inadequately represented in soybeans” and stabilizes the brew with emulsifiers.  The supplements, though, are “cheap, mass-produced products,” to include Vitamin D2, which “has been linked to hyperactivity, coronary heart disease and allergic reactions.”  Canola oil is added to low-fat soymilks, which are made with soy protein isolate (SPI), to provide creaminess.  And a few years back, titanium oxide, a form of white paint, was an additive used to improve color and texture (65-69).

The soy products made from soy milk are thickened with carrageenan, a water-soluble polymer or gum used as a fat substitute.  Recent studies show that carrageenan “can cause ulcerations and malignancies in the gastrointestinal tract of animals” (69).   

Soy cheeses “can be artificially flavored to resemble American cheese, mozzarella, cheddar, Monterey jack and Parmesan, and they’re increasingly used by fast food operations such as Pizza Hut.”  But, “many brands of soy cheeses contain dangerous partially hydrogenated fats” or trans fats, “with the highest levels in the brands that taste the best.  The main ingredient of Tofutti brand soy cheese, for example, is water, followed by partially hydrogenated soybean oil” (69-70). 

Soy ice creams are mostly water, sugar, oil, soy protein isolate, and, sometimes, tofu.  Tofutti’s first three ingredients are “water, white sugar and corn oil, followed by soy protein isolate (SPI) and sometimes tofu.  Brown sugar and high fructose corn syrup make up most of the rest.”  Soy Dream and Imagine “contain fewer ingredients,” but still “consist mainly of water, some form of sugar, soy and more sugar” (69-71).

Soy protein becomes more “invisible” as industry begins legally inserting it silently into our food, including, at first, such items as “preformed hamburger patties, readymade meat loaves, spaghetti sauces and even some brands of fresh ground beef” (87).  Now, textured soy protein (TSP), soy protein concentrate (SPC), soy protein isolate (SPI), hydrolyzed vegetable/soy protein (HVP/HSP), soy oil, soy margarine, and soy lecithin are put into our foods and into our food animals without any idea of what safe levels of consumption might be, considering that these foods carry elements that are toxic for humans. 

Let’s take a look at these industrial products.  Textured soy protein (TSP) is made when defatted soy flour (the oil has been extracted) is forced through an extruder under conditions of such extreme heat and pressure– that the “structure of the soy protein is changed” (90). 

Soy protein concentrate (SPC) is made from defatted soy flakes (the oil has been extracted) and becomes an industrial component of soy analogues of other foods.  It is best known for use in fake meats, but it “can replace almond paste in marzipan recipes, cream filling in chocolates, and numerous other ingredients” (92).

Soy protein isolate (SPI) is made from defatted soy bean meal (the oil has been extracted).  SPI is “mixed with nearly every food product sold in today’s stores-energy bars, muscle-man powders, breakfast shakes, burgers and hot dogs.”  It is the main ingredient in soy infant formulas.  Consuming SPI increases “requirements for vitamins E, K, D and B12” and a whole host of minerals.  Its production takes place in chemical factories and takes a “complicated, high-tech procedure” that also produces “levels of toxins and carcinogens such as lysinoalanines and nitrosamines” (93).

Soy oil production is “a complicated high-tech process that includes grinding, crushing and extracting, using high temperature, intense pressure and chemical solvents such as hexane.  Free radicals are produced, which causes rancidity, so another “high-temperature refining, deodorizing and light hydrogenation (trans fats) is used (97). 

Soy oil margarine and shortening are made by hydrogenating soy oil, which makes it solid at room temperature and a trans fat.  The compound is dyed yellow for margarine or bleached white for lard. 

Soy lecithin is, literally, “the sludge left after crude soy oil goes through a `degumming’ process.  It is a waste product containing residues of solvents and pesticides.” It is used instead of eggs as an emulsifier to keep water and fat from separating (113-114).   

These industrial forms of soy “carry their baggage of phytates mostly intact, putting formula-fed infants, vegetarians and other high consumers of soybeans at risk for mineral deficiencies” (214).  Unmediated soy can and does cause a host of health problems, as discussed earlier in this series. 

Takeaway message:  if you are going to eat soy, eat the “good old soys” (miso, tempeh, natto, soy sauce) that have been mediated by traditional fermentation and eat those sparingly.  Good luck finding traditionally made soy sauce.  Do not eat the modern industrial soy products.  Like all junk foods, they do not support health.  Know that even with four essays, I have only scratched the surface what is explained in Daniel’s very important book.