Monday, October 26, 2009

Two Posts in One Day!

You know the "big" blogs that get paid to promote a product? I am not one of those blogs. But, I do know a fair bit of knowledge about nutrition, so I am constantly searching for the best products for my family. I love a good search. In a sea of crap I am always looking for the pearl. This weekend I found it. At the Real Food Company a block from my sister's apartment, I found a very wonderful Elderberry product, and now I am telling you about it too. And it was on sale ($5 reduced!).
Here is why I switched..
1. It is standardized which means there is a guaranteed amount of bioflavanoids per serving
2. It is organic
3. It has no high fructose corn syrup
4. It has no preservatives
5. It is concentrated, so you get more and take less.

The only drawback I could guess is that you must refrigerate after opening. Now, I have decided to just start giving a small dose to the family every day. I know that the studies have shown that it only works for influenza when you actually get sick, but I have been checking up on elderberry and over and over and over I keep reading it has been used for centuries to help colds and the flu and to prevent getting either. I decided to try out this method for this sick season and see if it works. I have found that if I mix the extract with a very small bit of water M will drink it all in one gulp. So, we are an experiment in progress. And, in case you are running low, or have not gotten your elderberry extract, here is another option. You can search Gaia Herbs website to find a store closest to you zip code that sells their products.

Radicchio with Pine Nuts and Orange Zest

Back to normal.
I am sitting at my computer eating breakfast (ezekial bread with almond butter) drinking my earl grey tea. The house is quiet. M tearfully went to school. Although last night at 3am I was awoken by two foxes and a random cat playing chase on my deck. I thought is was my cat (who was actually sleeping on the bed with me but it was dark so I did not know) so I turned on the light opened the door and started yelling at them. But that woke me up and I had a hard time falling back asleep. I thought it very odd that foxes were playing. I wondered if they were playing with the cat or playfully trying to kill it. Hmmm....

While in San Franicsco, I made this dish to have with dinner one night. It took less than 10 minutes. I bought the Pecorino Romano already grated which cut down on the time it took to make the dish. Pecorino Romano is a sheep's milk cheese that has a more pungent bite than parmesean. I absolutely love it and have almost completely replaced parmesean with it. Most grocery stores carry it too, which makes it easy to try.
Radicchio is quite bitter. It is in the chicory family. The pine nuts, orange zest and cheese balance the bitterness. But, if you have a strong aversion to bitter, you may not like it. It is worth a try however; bitter vegetables are very nourishing to the liver.
makes 2 big servings or 4 small servings

1 head radicchio
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 tbls olive oil
juice and zest of one juicy orange
salt to taste
2 tbls grated pecorino romano cheese

Thinly slice 3/4 head of radicchio after trimming out stem.
Pour olive oil into a pan and when hot add radiccio, pine nuts and orange juice. Sautee for 3 or 4 minutes, and taste for salt. Turn off heat, add pecorino romano and serve in dishes. Top with a small bit of orange zest.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Saturday night out in SF

Auntie and M

Shannon's Engagement Party. The one in the middle was on fire!

In her element, the star of the show!

Yesterday Auntie took us to see Wicked. Wow. It was really wonderful. The costumes, the voices, the action! M really liked it. In the second act she leaned over and said "Mama, I keep forgetting this is a show and thinking it is a movie". That was when I knew she was totally absorbed. I had some moments thinking she might not be able to sit through all three hours, but she did. She woke up today talking about the witches in fact. And, it was not scary at all which we thought might be the case.

For dinner we went to A16, a place I have been wanting to try now for years. Italian. It was good. Not fantastic, but I will most definitely go back.

Then, after dinner, we went to Auntie's friend's engagement party. It was like a supermodel party. Perfect hair, perfect outfits, perfect conversations. I felt a little country bumpkin, but M sure did not. She walked through the whole party introducing herself and starting conversations. 30 minutes into the party she found me and said "Mom, I am having a great time and I have lots of new friends now". Uh huh.
I mean she is a very social, comfortable little girl, but this was a bit much. I really think she knew everyone's name by the time we left. She definitely gets those genes from her dad. He is known to be the life of the party in our neighborhood, and she is following closely in his footsteps. It was very funny.
Today is back home. I am really sad fall break is over. I am lamenting the school schedule and how boring I am finding life at home. I am just going to keep focusing on halloween this weekend, and the upcoming holiday season.......

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roasted Delicata Squash with Leeks

Pictures not so great, but oh well. I am not at home and the sun is setting before I am getting good photos.
While on the topic of squash and celebrating the seasons, I mentioned Delicata Squash. It is my personal favorite. It is very sweet. Very delicate like its name. Very bursting with flavor. Have you made any squashes yet? They are really easy! I promise!
There are still a couple of weeks of farmers market left. Delicata squash are there. Whole Foods usually carry them too. After you buy these squash, they last quite a while. Usually a month in a cool dry place. I don't use delicata in soups because the flavor is so amazing I just can't dilute it. So here goes.
And the default here; you can always oven roast them plain. Just throw it on a cookie sheet and put in a 350 degree oven. After an hour check it with a sharp knife. If it comes out easily, it is done. Carefully slice in half longways, and scoop out seeds and pulp with a spoon. Then scoop out the flesh and top with salt and a small pat of butter or olive oil.
I made my dish with leeks, olive oil and salt.

Roasted Delicata Squash and Leeks

2 delicata squash
glug of olive oil
4 med. leeks, trimmed and washed
pinches of salt

Using a vegetable peeler, remove skin of squash. Cut off tops and bottoms of squash and slice longways. Scoop out seeds. Cut into 1 inch thick slices.

Trim green parts of leeks, cut in half longways and run under cold water to remove any dirt inbetween layers. Cut into 1/2 inch pieces.

Add leek and delicata pieces to a baking dish. Pour a good glug of olive oil and a few pinches of salt. Mix well and cover. Bake for 60-90 minutes at 375 degrees.

And if you make some delicata squash be sure to tell me!

Butternut Squash Soup

I am posting a butternut squash soup recipe!

I never make soup the same twice (or any soup recipe for that matter). For me, each time I plan a to make soup I have new or different ingredients, or think of a new spice that might fit my taste of the moment. Here are a couple of wonderful facts about butternut squash
1. it is in season right now
2. because of number one, it is usually reasonably priced
3. lots of fiber and beta carotene in butternut squash
4. this squash is naturally very sweet and versatile
5. it is so sweet that most children love the taste and will eat it
6. you can substitute butternut squash for pumpkin and make a pie

I mostly oven roast this squash. I put the whole thing on a cookie sheet and just put it in the oven. I don't slice it in half and bake it flesh side down mostly because I have irrational fear of cutting off my finger. Squash are very hard can be difficult to cut.
When I make soup I either use oven roasted squash or cut the squash into pieces. It really only takes a couple of minutes to peel and cut a squash. Sometimes I peel the squash and then cut into slices, drizzle with olive oil and salt and cover with tin foil. I pop it in the oven and roast it. The squash steams itself under the tin foil. The slices are divine. A couple of weeks ago I made butternut squash and beet greens lasagna. Oh yum.
On a cutting board, carefully use a vegetable peeler to remove the skin of squash in long strips. With a sharp knife, chop off the top and bottom of squash. Then cut the squash into big chunks. Use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp. Put that in your compost bucket. Add the raw squash to your stock pot.

Butternut Squash Soup

1 large butternut squash skin and seeds removed, chopped into cubes
4 cups stock
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 onion chopped
5 cloves garlic
1 tsp salt
juice of a lime
1 tbls. olive oil

I use an immersion blender to make this soup. If you don't have an immersion blender, then you can pour the soup into a blender after it has been cooking about 40 minutes. Make sure you put a dish towel on top of the blender lid to prevent burning yourself while blending.
Return to soup pot and cook for 30 minutes more.
This is a really basic recipe. You can add vanilla seeds, roasted peppers or leeks. Crumble goat cheese and sun dried tomatoes on top. Oh that would be good.

And, when you are the store or farmers market buying your butternut squash, pick up some delicata squash. That is one of my most favorite foods of all time. Like a butterscotch candy inside a squash!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fall Break

This week is M's fall break. How easily we fell out of the waking up early pattern. I feel like my body is not meant to get up before 7am.
We are heading to San Francisco today. We have not been in a couple of months. Saturday we are going to take M to see the play Wicked. We have reservations at OTD, the newest addition to the Slanted Door restaurants that opened up on Fillmore. We are also planning on eating at Flour + Water in the mission. Maybe a visit to Delfina too? Whatever the case I am excited to see my sister and walk on cement.
Lastly, I wanted to tell you all that I made butternut squash soup the other day. I roasted some sweet peppers and added them too. I used an immersion blender to mix it, and added vanilla bean seeds. Our local market sells raw whole ground vanilla beans for only $4.25 a bag! I added a couple of teaspoons and the vanilla crumbles added the most wonderful dimension to the butternut squash.
It was good enough to warrant mentioning to you in case you were thinking about making soup these cold days.
I will report on SF in the next couple of days!

Sunday, October 18, 2009


The Belfry Brothers! A cute bunch of guys playing bluegrass. The guy in the blue shirt just happens to be my hubby...

Potato sack race! She thought she wanted to, but it was all boys!

Before the big crowds got there.....

A lot of organic natural strawberry cotton candy was eaten!

Sam, the newly retired executive director. Loved the headband!

Hay bales to sit and watch the stage...

M took this pic. A little fuzzy, but one of my best girl friends!!

Getting a little tired....

The back of the walking up the path. Took the shot to show how big the crowd was

The hand painted photo-op Shindig sign

Dunk Tanks are a whole lotta fun. Thanks Bruce!

Cannot believe I got this shot of her! The flying pigtails! The excitement! Oh it was fun!

The neighborhood kids!

I was impressed by how seriously the kids took playing the games. Such focus.

Face Painting

Cow Milking Game

Early in the day before all the people showed up I took photos....

Ice Cream and Cotton Candy

Pumpkin Carving Station

Games for the little kids

Rachael being a rock star game volunteer!

Jake running the dart game. He just got over the flu too.....

The prize booth. Kids cash in their tickets won from the games for prizes.

I volunteered at the bean bag game

Today was the Shindig Festival. It is one of the most popular events in our community. Another board member (I sit on the board of directors of our local cultural center) and I started this festival four years ago. Everything is home made. Everyone volunteers. A LOT OF WORK. But, now, four years later there is a system in place and it is an easier festival to run. Now, I am happily a volunteer, and not the festival co-director. It has become one of the most special events in our community, and is very well attended.
There is live music and entertainment all day. There are 20 or more vendor booths selling vegetables, clothes, honey, toys and carpets to name a few. There is pumpkin carving, face painting, a dunk tank and hand made games for kids to play the whole day.
There are tamales, (made at tamale parties weeks before) ice cream and organic cotton candy. Everything is purchased with wooden nickels which are bought at the entrance.
A recipe for success.
A home spun festival in our community where I know a big portion of the attendees. And, most people who attend know almost everyone too! I may not like all the aspects of the small community we live in, but on days like today, I know this is the reason why a small place can be a very wonderful place to be.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Autumn Scroll

I am almost recovered. I was 80% by the end of yesterday, and today I have almost no symptoms except a sore throat and some lingering dredges. Hurray for homeopathy and elderberry!!
I am sick of being sick, so lets move on!
This past weekend M and her dad made this scroll together. The drawing was done by M. It is a chinese lantern plant and a pomegranate. They did a small sketch, then M went to work drawing the pictures on the scroll paper. The fabric on the top and bottom are my contribution from my fabric stash, and the green tassels on the bottom were made from yarn scraps they fashioned together. Leftover holiday ribbon decorated the sides. Everything was recycled!
I really admire how seasonal the elements in the scroll are, and how much hard work they put into it. M is super into her daddy right now, and it was a perfect project for them both.
They decided to hang it in M's bedroom. Homemade artwork is just the best!
Happy Weekend

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Thursday Sick Update

Day Two.
Yeah, it sucks. I am keeping M home from school today because I cannot stomach the three hours of driving her to school and back with the flu. My fever got up to 101.5 last night, but I did not take anything for it to allow my body to really fight this off. If my head would just stop hurting I would be in a way better place. My neck is really sore, and it hurts to turn it or move my eyes. When I stand up after laying or sitting, I have the worst sharp, stabbing pains in my head. My throat and glands feel more swollen today, and my headache for the last 24 hrs. is like a migraine. This morning my fever is down.
Last night I changed my remedy to Bryonia due to the headache, eyes and neck pain and white coated tongue. I also am more thirsty. After I took the remedy last night I felt a strange warmth in my whole body, and my nose became runny for a time. But, still no cold-like symptoms.
Still taking the elderberry though, and this is just like the last flu I had, only more mild. I guess I will have to hang in there for just a couple more days. So far, I am the only sick one in the house.

Are you sick of reading about me being sick yet?

Oh yes, Dr. Oz had "natural immune boosting ideas" or something of the sort on his show yesterday. He talked about elderberry! He said something like it is "a natural flu blocker". He also called it "something you have never heard of". Ha!
Well, upwards and onwards. I have a warm bath in my future along with some movies to watch with the five year old. She is really happy I am sick. She is eating her fourth bowl of Cascadian Farm O's cereal watching Curious George. She woke up this morning today asking if I was too sick for her to go to school. "Oh mommy, I guess we will just watch movies all day!"
Someone is getting a little vacation out of this....

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Sick update

Elderberry extract kicks ass. I have been taking 2 tsp. every four hours and everything has leveled out. Slight sore throat, body aches, low fever and a pretty major headache that really throbs when I stand up. I am tired too. But, no snot or cold-like symptoms. NOTHING like the last flu I had when I did nothing but lay on the couch for 3 days.
I am going to try to stop overthinking this (a tall order!) and just be happy it is clearing out. But if this is swine flu, I put it at 4 on a scale of 10 for severity. The fact I can type on my computer with a mild case of flu speaks for itself.


Last night when I got home I was feeling achy. By the time I got into bed I was chilly, spacey and had a low fever. I had a bad night of sleep. Surprisingly though, I did not get "cold" symptoms like a runny nose. I did feel a deep weird feeling in my lungs like I had just ran down the block in cold weather. Just really dull. But nothing at all like the flu I had a year ago.
So, I took aconite last night, and two teaspoons of elderberry extract. Today, more elderberry.
Low fever, worse from moving, no thirst, alternating between too hot and cold, eyes hurt, weakness and fatigue. I am worse from getting up and moving around. I feel better sitting under a blanket not moving. What is my remedy? I am choosing Gelsemium.

I will keep you posted!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pumpkin Pie

I finally got a light an flaky crust. Hallelujah! M was supposed to help me make this, but she opted out at the last minute, wanting to instead jump around and bury herself under a down comforter in the living room waiting to be put away. It became my cozy afternoon project yesterday before I made vegetable soup in my pressure cooker for dinner. 25 minutes of cooking later we were eating dinner.
The pumpkin pie recipe called for heavy whipping cream and milk. I had lowfat yogurt and 2 % milk. A risk I know, but it turned out wonderful, and frankly if I did not know I made the pie with yogurt, I would not have known. It is a great way to cut down on the fat and calories of a decadent dessert. Pumpkins are high in fiber and beta-carotene too, which make them a wonderful food to eat. Next time I am going to substitute maple syrup for the sugar....

Pumpkin Pie filling
2 cups pumpkin pulp (canned or freshly cooked)
4 eggs
3 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/2 tsp salt
1 3/4 cup sugar
3 tsp. molasses
2/3 cup low fat milk
2/3 cup low fat yogurt
(this made a bit more than my pie could hold, so I put the extra into ramekins and baked it along with the pie)
In a food processor, puree pumpkin until smooth
Add all the other ingredients, blend until smooth and add to partially cooked pie shell

Pie crust
1 1/4 cup unbleached flour
1 stick butter cubed and very cold
glass of ice water
1 tsp salt
In a food processor, blend flour, salt and butter using short pulses. Carefully add ice water a couple of teaspoons at a time until mixture resembles coarse sand. Dump onto a clean surface and mold into a ball with your hands. Wrap with plastic wrap and put in fridge for 30 minutes. After chilling, flour a clean surface and roll dough out to fit pie pan. Cover pan with tin foil and dried beans or pie weights. Cook in oven at 375 for 12 minutes. Take out crust and fill with pie filling. Cook at 350 degrees until barely jiggly in middle; about 40 minutes.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Harvest Festival

Saturday was a Harvest Festival in town. We picked up pumpkins, toured the haunted barn (which was too scary for M. last year) got lost in a corn maze and enjoyed a beautiful fall day. Hope you are enjoying your fall days too.


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