Sunday, December 9, 2012

I forgave her

"Duality embedded in wholeness produces truly healing results". Robert Waterman said that in his book Eyes Made of Soul, The Theory and Practice Of Noetic Balancing. This was somewhat of a life changing quote for me. Because beyond this, the theory of Noetic Balancing is to resolve duality through living love. Living love for myself. These last two years have been a personal laboratory for me doing just this. A month ago in my therapists office, I met for the first time with the woman my husband cheated on me with. He had immediately moved out when we split and moved in with her. They are still together. I created the experience of betrayal in my life to come into wholeness. It took many months, much processing and a lot of self-forgiveness to type that last sentence. I have cried buckets, been angry, wanted revenge, wanted them to suffer, rolled around on the bathroom floor from the pain of grief. I spent months terrified I would not come back from the dark side; the pit of life that had gobbled me up. I believed my husbands infidelity had taken away my safety, security, life as I knew it. And deep down, I persecuted myself because I thought I had driven him away to a younger, easier to live with woman who had all the attributes I did not. I think now that allowing myself to be in that place, and trusting I would come out, and looking deeper and beyond the idea of good and bad allowed me to surface from the storm and claim my life and the blessing of this. Because when I met with this woman, I wept with tears of gratitude for her. If she had not come forward, so my own drama could unfold, I might not have the compassion for myself, my world, others, and the collective journey we take. She helped me trust my life. Heartbreak, betrayal, loss, sorrow, grief, all helped me to trust my life. How could what I once labeled as "bad" be so life giving? Now I am waking up to all of life being life giving. When I let go of attachments of how things should be, and let myself just be, I am no longer a victim to life's circumstances. My mind may tell me otherwise, but my heart will lead the way.  She was an integral character in my own hero's journey.

Beyond the right and wrong of my personal experience was an opportunity to love myself. Loving myself was at first loving myself in my severe grief state. Because grief was crippling me so, I was willing to try anything. My mentor suggested I love the grief. So I did this first by laying on the couch all day. Treating myself to a movie. Making my daughter a quesadilla 5 nights in a row because I could not muster anything more. Spending every morning in the shower crying. I loved her first. I told her what a great job she was doing. I cut her a massive amount of slack. I had decided I was worth my own love. And why would that be? My past might say I am not worthy of that love. My mother had chosen not to mother me. My husband, the same. And now I see how my life had been conspiring these circumstances to do just this. It was never about getting the love from the outside. It was an inside job all along. I had been to the classes, read the books. Heard all the right ways to "do" life. But, this was not to be an experience of my mind, it would be a journey of my heart.  I had never experienced any real self compassion before two years ago. I had never awoken to any kind of living love for myself. In an effort to control the amount of pain in my life, I made sure to be the harshest critic, the most oppressive supporter of myself. Then there would be no surprises when it happened outwardly. My skin would already be so thick that any kind of disappointment would pale in comparison to the self-constructed wall against love and life I had created in an effort to protect myself from hurts manufactured out of the harsh landscape of life. But it did. The pain did knock me over. In the end I found my well thought out constructs blew over in an instant. Love was the glue of the universe that I had not experienced first hand. It had been there all along, but I had not let myself awaken to it. And when I judge my circumstances ("See Jessica, you are just a scorned woman, horrible mother, left by your husband. You drove them all away. You deserve a crappy life ") I produce againstness. I needed betrayal, or rather I crafted an experience of betrayal to move me beyond the idea that life was what it seemed. It seemed I was undeserving of the riches of love. Now I am able to include myself and everyone else in my definition of what is divine. Tender, loving, patient, forgiving; those are the new ways for myself.  In this, I have accepted full responsibility for the troubles in my life. Accepting responsibility in my life was key. Never can I blame anyone or anything for my life circumstances. I wavered for months and months with this foreign concept. It was so radical to me and somewhat overwhelming to know that I might accept my life as my own and not blame others for my pain and suffering.  But, I wanted peace, and that meant letting go of againstness. Againstness towards myself, my life, others. And that meant letting go of what was right and wrong (this woman was "wrong" because she hurt me so much) and I really started believing the universe was conspiring towards my wholeness when I saw I could muster even bits of compassion for myself. I was able to forgive the belief that I had that she has done something wrong. So never could I see myself in a one down position. And in that flash, I could not be against myself and believe the universe was against me, so I and, every person I meet whether close friend or causal acquaintance, or in my case "the other woman"  are a integral part of the movie of my life I am watching propel me towards wholeness and for that I am grateful for. So grateful for this world and all the things in it, I weep tears of joy. Now the boss that fires me, the bank lender that denies me, the person that betrays me, the friend that loves me, the family that embraces me, they all get equal billing of gratitude. They all are reflecting life back to me and now that I know that I am attempting to love all my experiences because of their ability to produce wholeness, I can stop running.

And so when I met her, I told her how much I have hurt. I was honest with my story. I apologized for ever wanting to hurt her or wanting others to hate her. I thanked her. I loved her. I do this because I do this for myself.  I too, am a human who makes mistakes, and does humanly things to get my needs met. She is no less than me. It was only because I was hurting and suffering so much that I wanted the world to hate her and what she had done. Before, I thought my suffering might ease if she suffered. But really what has happened is that I freed myself by forgiving her. I waited until I was truly ready. I was scared shitless though. It was not easy to face this woman, meet her, be honest and cry for an hour straight. But I want to live life to the fullest of my potential and I want life to meet me where I meet it. And so life will keep handing me my lessons towards grace. It all is for grace. It is that because I choose it.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

My Sister's Hashimotos Journey

I am going to start a three part series on auto-immune disease. I am constantly encountering people who are touched by this complex health issue, including my identical twin sister.  I will be providing you with an alternative look into autoimmune disease. It is a look into helping the body cure itself. Many people are taking a new approach towards autoimmune disease, so by no means am I alone in my theory. I am purely adding to the pot of information already being embraced widely. There is a journey we all must take that is our own, and along with that, there is a way to support our bodies and not suppress them. This is my offering.

My sister's blog Heal Hashimoto's has been an online journal of her Hashimoto's journey. She found an alternative doctor in Marin, CA, after getting fed up by being tired and having abnormal periods. She had been to her gynecologist who tested her thyroid ("perfectly healthy") and offered no options to test bio-available hormones. Side note: Christine Northrup MD recommends a test like this Complete Hormones test from Genova to accurately test steroid hormones. But, my sister's  prominent MD gynecologist had no idea about tests like this and did not offer them. So, frustrated and intent on finding answers, she found an alternative doctor (it was an Osteopath) in Marin. With no glaringly obvious symptoms other than 'almost 40 years old lethargy', she made the appointment.  Turns out this new doctor routinely tests  clients for food absorption,  and my sister's test came back reporting she was only absorbing 50% of her nutrients. Half of her nutrients were being absorbed. The other half of her nutrients were floating into her blood stream through her leaky gut. Leaky gut was causing so much inflammation in her body she was also experiencing large amounts of adrenal fatigue. Beyond the straightforward fatigue symptoms, she had nothing glaringly obvious that her immune system was overreacting. That conversation was yet to come. After she found out her nutrient/food absorption was low, the doctor ordered a celiac test which came back positive. Both gluten antibodies and the gene for celiac came back positive. Danielle has come to call this "silent celiac" as the disease was causing her gut to be in a constant state of inflammation that prevented half of all supplements and food to be utilized by her body yet had no obvious symptoms. I look on gut inflammation now as a root of many chronic diseases both obscure and obvious, that I think it will be the next wave of science to help medicine progress. 17 years ago my close friend's uncle was a GI doctor. I remember him laughing at my insistence of the use of probioics for disease. Now I see modern science is catching up when every drugstore in the US has them. People are changing their minds about gut ecology.

Danielle went to work researching celiac and low nutrient absorption. She started on The Specific Carbohydrate Diet to heal her gut and reduce inflammation. Over a course of months however, she saw did not see the increase of energy and weight loss she expected to see. She met with a practitioner who put her on dessicated thyroid supplements and went on to find a functional medicine chiropractor who had experience treating Hashimotos and Celiac disease. It sort of took a village for her to find the right combination of practitioners that in the end was the right formula.  She discovered and treated her leaky gut. She did this by addressing the overgrowth of candida in her gut, and eating a diet that healed her gut. She ate nothing but vegetables and protein for 10 months. She gave up coffee. She drank no alcohol. She exercised regularly. This addressed her fatigued adrenal glands (adrenal fatigue is rooted primarily in gut inflammation).  She gave up all dairy, grains, beans and fruit. This process took months to come together, as most of the advice she got from different practitioners had helped in fits and starts. But, even in a progressive area like the San Francisco bay area, it was largely a process of self-education, detective work and a whole lot of effort by Danielle to completely change the way she ate, uncover and relieve the root of all of her autoimmune issues. It is my whole hearted belief that beliefs that start as a thought trickle down to the physical level, and it was the same for my sister. This goes beyond mind-body medicine into the morphic field of healing potential.  She discovered the beginnings of her disease started with self directed anger. That belief she uncovered was the gift of her complaint. Hashimotos, as she herself has said, has been the teacher life has reflected back to her. I completely admire her tenacity and her drive to keep going until she found the right treatment plan, and the courage to see the energetic component driving her experience to begin with.

Celiac and gluten intolerance have become such buzz words that I think allopathic doctors are starting to cry wolf. And it is true that many people have stopped eating gluten. I have heard europeans do not have the same levels of gluten intolerance because they use less hybridized strains of wheat. Theories abound. But, I do know after talking to clients who have asked their primary care doctors, allergists and endocrinologists about wheat allergies there are a lot of lukewarm responses. And, once a diagnosis is made, few are linking celiac with other chronic diseases like Hashimotos. Even my sister who was being cared for by the one of the "best" alternative medicine clinics in Marin, had to ask for the tests that lead her to a Hashimoto's diagnosis. And, if she had continued along the path with that original, well-intentioned but poorly educated Hashimoto's doctor, she would be in worse shape than she is. But, autoimmune disease is rapidly becoming more common than breast cancer in this country, and soon everyone will be paying attention. Truly, I think Autism is the next illness to be re-labeled autoimmune disease, and when that happens, medicine will change as we know it.

She looked into celiac disease and found some literature that linked Hashimoto's to celiac. She asked her doctor to test her thyroid and her antibodies were elevated. Her TSH was slightly elevated based on the new test scale, but mostly her thyroid function was within range. This to me is extremely alarming because many many doctors do not test thyroid antibodies because they think that is a secondary test to TSH, T3 and T4 if those are out of range. But, you can have "normal" thyroid tests and elevated antibodies and still have autoimmune disease.

Danielle went right to work after uncovering her Hashimotos and discovered there is very little information about how to heal it naturally, which she is doing. I will tell you honestly that unless you SEEK OUT a knowledgeable doctor, synthetic thyroid hormone medication is the answer you are going to get. But, be forewarned; healing autoimmune disease, while completely possible, requires dedication. And, if you know anyone affected by an autoimmune disease of any kind, there is a way out. There is a way to heal your immune system. There is no such thing as a dire diagnosis you have to live with. If that is what your doctor has told you; that there is no cure, that is your cue that they have traveled as far along on the autoimmune path as they can with you, and it is time to start looking for people who can pick up where they are leaving off, and not give up hope. Doctors treat the immune system that is over-reacting to itself by suppressing the immune system. This view of treatment removes the idea that there is a reason your body is over-reacting to begin with. If you have the willingness and time, I say go there first. Examine why your body is attacking itself. There will be answers there. I say this to remind you that your doctor has been hired by you, and you can ask for 100% of what you want. And, as for the parts that you can manage without a doctors help, there are many. I am not suggesting going it alone. I am suggesting the opposite. Assemble a team for yourself.

So perhaps you, or someone you care about has been recently diagnosed, or suffering with an autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disorders can cause permanent damage in your body, but an autoimmune state is just where the body happens to be.  And you can move out of that state. But, what I am going to tell you right now, the very most valuable information about healing your body, is that it will take time and requires you to change your life. It will require effort on your part beyond taking a pill. It will require dedication, education and perseverance. You can heal your body. You change the way you nourish your body. You can do this. My sister has done all of her healing without the help prescription pharmaceuticals. That doesn't mean you have to do it that way however. Journeys like this are a personal one, and when we can love ourselves, even in the midst of discomfort on an autoimmune journey, riches lay waiting. There are practitioners who can help you do this. In the coming weeks I will be talking about these steps in more detail. For now, a few books to help you dip your toes into this new way of considering healing. Not all will apply directly to you. But, they all will give you a new understanding of disease and inflammation. 

1. The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Jackson Nakazawa
2. What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Autoimmune Disorders by Stephen Edelson

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Mousse

My daughter has been plagued by belly aches since August. I have been weening her off of gluten, but she is eight years old and is still learning the ropes. Dairy is next on the off list. I have been preparing myself for this by executing non-dairy, non-gluten foods. But going to the grocery store and finding coconut yogurt and finding stabilizers like guar gum and preservatives is off-putting. You know I love dishes with less than 5 ingredients in them!

Last night at the co-op I found dairy, nut and soy free chocolate chips by Enjoy Life. I am not allergic to soy, but silken tofu chocolate mouse is so overdone that I decided to try coconut milk. I had a feeling that the ratio of coconut milk (16oz full fat coconut milk with a 10z. bag of chips) might not set up like if I had used whipping cream. I melted the chips, whisked them into the coconut milk and refrigerated overnight. This morning it was soupy like I thought it may be. But I wondered if I whipped it like ganache if it would set up. It did! A lovely, light, perfectly chocolately and sweet mousse. I had researched coconut pudding/mousse and all of the recipes I found had cornstarch in them. I wanted to make this as allergy free as I could so omitted the corn and really don't like cornstarch as a thickener in general.  There is cane juice in the chocolate chips however. But you could substitute any high quality chocolate you like in this recipe finding the one that fits your lifestyle whether it be dairy free or not.

I am going to be focusing on gluten free recipes for all of you. Since I told you I have gone gluten free (I most likely carry the celiac gene) and am focusing on an low inflammation lifestyle, I will share what I make with you. Up next I am going to re-tool the cauliflower pizza crust recipe going around and add some almond flour to see what I can come up with.

Vegan Coconut Chocolate Mousse
makes a bit over 2 cups

1 can organic full fat coconut milk
1 10oz bag enjoy life chocolate chips

Melt chocolate in a double boiler. Whisk into coconut milk in a medium sized bowl. Cover and completely cool in fridge. Whisk with hand beater until light and fluffy (about 2 minutes)

Monday, November 5, 2012

Gingered Toasted Pecans

There are numerous reasons why toasted nuts keep us happy. A mid day snack, trail mix, granola ingredient, salad topper, garnish on hummus or a grain salad, folded into homemade ice cream, sprinkled on oatmeal in the morning. And when fall comes to us in all its glory, why not give nuts the star billing they deserve? After all, the squirrels are doing it!

I made these on a whim for a raw kale salad. I have somewhat ditched traditional salad greens for kale and arugula these days.  I don't know if I have told any of you that I officially gave up wheat, so I am making my vegetable intake more hearty with fewer grains in my diet. Kale is very satiating for me and packs a nutritional punch. My identical twin was diagnosed with Celiac induced Hashimotos Disease a year or so ago. Because we are twins, and she tested positive for the celiac gene, I have a 75% chance of having the gene too. I may not have expressed the gene as she has however, and as I told her, I don't do disease and divorce in the same year. So, I will remain oblivious to that big ball of fun until I am ready to examine it further. She talks about her journey on her blog Heal Hashimotos. Autoimmune Disease is the next big thing we are looking at in the country as women in my opinion. It is a very misdiagnosed area of disease, and many many doctors are not able to treat autoimmune disease except to sometimes prescribe medicine to slow its progression which in turn may deplete the immune system more. Women who have one autoimmune disease are very likely to get more their lifetime. Think for just a moment how many people you know that have an autoimmune disease. Is it more people than you know that have breast cancer or heart disease? Yet modern medicine cannot explain autoimmune disease triggers mostly, and the immune system still remains a mystery to scientists. But, you can in many cases halt or heal autoimmune disease regardless what a doctor may say when you look at improving your whole body function through nutrition and food. Terry Wahls is an example of healing MS, and she is a MD! You can watch her TEDx talk here.  My sister is another example of someone who took their health back by not taking 'no' for an answer. She had to cycle through many practitioners to find a combination of healers that fit her goals, and she fell short a few times even in San Francisco where some of the best alternative doctors practice. She went grain, dairy, sugar and fruit free for 9 months. She healed her gut through diet, supplements and belief changes that worked on the root of the illness (for her it was self directed anger). A lot of this was facilitated by a practitioner who uses Noetic Field Energy Medicine. I have found NFEM to be a very progressive and form of somatic therapy. She also found a NAET practitioner in San Francisco who helped desensitize her body from the foods causing systemic inflammation.

So, I have been gluten free and I feel better. Any person who has an autoimmune disease, I recommend to go off gluten. I also take supplements targeted for glutathione production and inflammation reduction. I got a constitutional homeopathic remedy for increasing my vital energy. I regularly meditate. I switched to algae DHA instead of fish DHA after the earthquake in Japan. All of these things together is medicine. Not the narrow view we currently have offered to us. We can widen our view of medicine for ourselves by knowing we always have options and choices even if it appears we do not.

Gingered Toasted Pecans
makes 2 cups

2 cups pecans
2 Tbls maple syrup
generous pinch salt
2 heaping teaspoons fresh grated ginger

I use a microplane zester for grating my ginger. It makes is almost like paste. I did not peel the skins off of the ginger, although you can if you would like. A trick: use the back of a spoon to peel ginger skin off instead of a peeler; works great!
In a bowl, mix pecans, maple syrup, salt and ginger. On a silpat, parchment paper or very seasoned (so therefore non-stick mostly) cookie sheet, spread pecan mixture evenly.
Bake at 350 for 10 minutes stirring once. Cook for 5 more minutes then remove from oven and let cool. Store in an airtight container.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

My Sept. 11th

On September 11th, 2001 I was living in the japanese tea house. I wasn't married, or a mother yet. I was just a girlfriend to the buddhist electrician; a nutritionist making her way in the wild world. I was not yet even 30 years old. I was young enough to call my father instantly for reassurance watching the nightmare come true before my eyes, but old enough to know in an instant nothing would be the same.  We had no tv. Internet was dial-up. At 6:30am my friend called me to tell me what was happening. With no voice mail, I heard her voice on the answering machine. I immediately called my sister and sat on the phone with her while she gave me the blow by blows watching tv. The second plane hit the tower. The first building fell. Then the second. People screaming. People jumping from the burning towers. America fell apart, and we cried together. How could this be happening? She worked for Gap corporate then, and the company told them not to come to work that day. Good thing, because I had begged her not to go to work as soon as I saw what was unfolding, before we all knew it was an isolated event. I remember telling her I had dreamed this would happen the previous week. Dreamed of being in the twin towers (which I have never been in) riding an escalator, reading a newspaper while in the building about the future events that were unfolding in my dream. Dreamed of being in the basement while the skyscraper above me fell, dust everywhere. But back then, big news still happened on television and not on the internet, so I felt simultaneously safe being in the middle of nowhere and the angst of having limited information. It seemed the world was in a daze in an instant. Shock worked its way into our nervous systems that day, and we all were just people in the world watching people jump from buildings, crying while feeling completely helpless. 

Sometimes it takes events this big to move us.

And honestly I will tell you I moved into fear. I stockpiled food over the next few months. I made sure we always had gas for the generator to power the house. I asked for a pressure canner that Christmas so I could put food in jars. I made contingency plans with my twin sister who lived in the bay area. It felt like the only way to hold on to control when it felt like I had so little of it in the world. This was before WMD, anthrax, Saddam Hussein, wars in Iraq and a dude named Bush acting like Oz behind a big curtain calling the shots. Every day seemed bleaker.

But then stories emerged from the ashes that moved us. And collectively it seemed that we kept getting messages from those ashes that stayed with us in a different way than before Sept. 11th.
Be kind to your neighbors. Enjoy each day you have. Love your family. Don't take anything for granted. Happiness is an inside job. Life is an illusion. Courage was redefined that day by many, many people.

Sometimes it takes events this big to move us.

A new generation is here now. Technology is here now. I don't live off-grid in the so-called-safety of dirt roads and stockpiling. I live in the security of going inward. I live in the security of knowing that I get to decide where to place my focus when the world is falling apart. I had no way for myself on Sept. 11th 2001.  My first real glimpse of the impermanence of life was Sept. 11th. And if I had not had that gift; that realization that nothing stays, and it is all love anyway, I would not have looked for more.
If we do not know we are suffering then we cannot find a way to love it.
And that day I was moved. And this day I am moved. And I keep going. And I keep loving. And I keep choosing the focus to love. And it is always inward. And a thousand billion tears can be shed, and lives can be lost, and I am thankful for the perfection, even in that. Because more loving can come forward when I choose to see it that way. When the the disaster is the miracle. When love does not fall apart. It glues us together.

Friday, September 7, 2012

The Best Sun Gold Cherry Tomato Soup Ever

Sun Gold Cherry Tomatoes. It deserves capital letters. I had never even heard of them until I moved to California. But for the last 12 years they have been a special breed of tomatoes for me. They are little bursts of sweetness and tartness. They are so far superior to cherry tomatoes that I hesitate even comparing them in the same sentence. Sun golds are little cherry tomatoes that are bright orange in color and pack a flavor punch that is worth seeking out at your farmers market or produce stand.
A few weeks back a local farmer and friend Ruby asked if I had made a soup with these little gems. I knew right then I would be working this recipe into my list of early fall must-haves. As we move through tomato season, you will find great prices on them!
This is fall in a glass.
You know I am all about simple and easy, and this soup is. But, dang if this does not give any kind of bisque a run for its money, I don't know what will. This soup has no cream in it like bisque soups do, but tastes like it does. I know it has a stick of butter, but just go for it! I did not add stock on purpose to see how concentrated I could get the flavors. It was a good call. People will ask you for this recipe if you make it, so be prepared!

Sun Gold Cherry Tomato Soup
makes 4 servings (about a quart worth)

3 baskets sun gold cherry tomatoes (take little green stem off)
1 stick butter
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 large onion chopped fine
1 tablespoon chopped shallot
1 clove garlic chopped
salt to taste

In a small soup pot, sautee onions, garlic and shallot in butter on medium heat. Add tomatoes and wine after 15 minutes. Cook on medium heat covered for about 1 hour.
Then pour soup in blender (it will be hot so cover the top of the blender with a clean dish towel so you don't burn yourself, and blend until smooth (about 1 minute) or use a immersion blender in the soup pot for a few minutes. Either way you want the soup to be relatively creamy. Cook for another 20 minutes on low heat covered. Add salt to taste.
Strain soup through mesh strainer into a bowl. Use spatula to force all the soup through the strainer leaving all the tomato and onion skins behind. Compost those.
Note: you could add a bit of stock to this to stretch it. I like the concentrated flavors and how thick the soup is. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Melon & Lemon Verbena Cooler and The Universe's Travel Plans

Back in my olden days (you know, two short years ago) vulnerability as you know, was not in my bag of tricks. But I think today about how my ex said something to me the weekend we broke up touching into my lack of vulnerability I found so searing and so harsh, that I can't even type it here.  He spoke his truth and the truth burnt me to a crisp. A fucking crisp. Sometimes we take things personally that others say when we perhaps see the kernel of truth we agree with in ourselves. I took it personally. I saw the kernel of truth about myself I did not like. Now I thank him for this because I became aware of my half-way person ways through this whole process of breaking up. I am a fan of toaster ovens presently; the kind that bake our hearts to a nice golden hue. The kind of toaster ovens our very best teachers carry around with them. I do not run from searing love these days.  And so a recent interaction I had with someone helped me see this in new light and feel support for myself with how much I have embraced this new way. In the interaction I had with this person, I met them as far as they could come emotionally, which was not as far as I wanted them to come.  I was able to see their edge however, and I did not take it personally. Once I would have. I would have questioned, searched, or attempted to resolve it in some way. I would have taken it personally.  I would  have believed that if I were special enough they could go further. If I were dazzling enough, they would go further. The same as when I was married. If my husband knew how precious his family was, he would not party until 4am so often. This time however, I did not try to change this person or change the situation. I let it be. I loved them where they were. I loved me where I was. Suffering was felt deeply by me in this particular case however, because I found that I was attached to an outcome. Suffering is proving to always be a result of me having a particular way I want things to work out. Maybe akin to really wanting a job promotion when you think you are ready and your boss gives the job to someone else and you say "why did that happen?"  My teacher said to me a few years back "If someone doesn't love you, there is a place inside yourself you are not loving yourself. Go there".  So I will. Over and over and over again knowing that if I did not want to resolve what is in my life, I would not have invented it. Suffering only arises when I complain about the travel plans the universe is making for me. Plan away then, universe. Plan away. And to those who come into my life and teach me to love myself more, and help to recalibrate my compass towards accepting what is right here, I bow to you a thousand times with thanks.

And so it is melon season. Give me a melon and I am a happy gal. Really, I prefer them above all other fruit. A few days ago a friend gave me a surprise present of fresh lemon verbena. I have been making fruity drinks all summer long but just could not find a fun pairing for melon until lemon verbena came along. This is a super fast and easy recipe. A great base for a margarita or a homemade wine cooler if that is your thing. I mixed this with coconut water which rounded out the flavors and broadened the horizons of how far this drink could go. My first batch is already gone!

Melon & Lemon Verbena Cooler
make around 2 cups

2 cups chopped fresh melon (seeds out and skins off)
1 1/2 cups coconut water
4 leaves of fresh lemon verbena
2 leaves of fresh mint

Blend in a blender for 90 seconds.
Pour through a strainer to remove foam and bits of lemon verbena and mint leaves

Friday, August 10, 2012

Road Trip To Lake Arrowhead

Golden Hills of California

How can my 8 year old be almost as big as me?

My sister invented this ten cent holder for M's Ipad enjoyment...

Lake Arrowhead at sunset

Last little hurrah of summer. A quick trip (well ok, it was an 8 hour drive) to Southern California to visit family on Lake Arrowhead. I really like traveling through California. Perhaps my favorite part of driving long distances is getting glimpses into different communities. Peeking into people's lives while driving though a desert town. Watching who is walking down the sidewalk pushing the baby stroller. Who is ordering food at the drive-through. Resters at the rest stop.  I wonder over and over again if people are happy with their lives when I travel outside of my little place. I wonder if people even think about if they are happy or not. Does the thought plague them like it often does me? Do they wonder about how love shapes them? Do they consider loneliness and it how it seems to whisper in all the languages of man?  Or, do they push away loneliness at any cost, its price too high to tolerate. Sometimes, I look longer than is polite at these people in the world I am so curious about. I am imagining what their stories are, what their houses look like. Who their best friends are. What they think about when the fall asleep at night or the conversation they have with themselves as they put their clothes on in the morning. And when I leave my enclave of security in my little town filled with friends, life, movement, passion and food, I see the illusion that familiarity can breed for me. I am the fish out of water in the world who thinks about how suffering moves us, or love touches us and feel the organic movement from that below my feet. No longer is it important what title I will have, or great house I will possess or what ladder I will climb to get to somewhere. It is a big loss of traction when all signals coming from the outside world don't signal what they used to. And sometimes, this is a lonely place to be... So I imagine myself grabbing the eggplant out of the basket from the market. And looking at the bottle olive oil. And asking it what to do next. And the thickness of thought carries me. And I let it.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Goodbye Sumi House & Ricotta Polenta Rosemary Cake

Today my real estate agent called to tell me my house had been sold. My voice cracked as tears gave way and I thanked her for the call. She has heard me shed many tears over this parting in my life these last few months. A while back I thought it was going to be foreclosed, but in the 11th hour it went into short sale mode. An old neighbor bought it, and now the community treasure that was our land, is back in the hands of the community. A deep sigh of relief. It was quite the feat with environmental easements, first rights of refusal and the sheer high profile of the whole project that kept things tied up along with the bank dragging its feet.

And so I say goodbye. So many things happened in my home. I soaked in the ofuro looking at the manzanita's gnarled branches, memorizing every one. M had chicken pox. M proudly walked me into her pink room and showed me her name she had scribbled in permanent black marker on the wall the size of a bowling ball. The financial markets crashed. Obama became president. I watched the hawks fly over the meadows and heard the squawks of their babies. Years of hearing May Day festivities that spilled late into the night as I lay restless in bed worried about fire, drugs and what it all meant. The pain of my husband and I dissolving like a big rig wreck in slow motion over the course of months. Moths every march while driving down the dirt road. June bugs descent in june that got inevitably caught in my hair. The smell of kitkitdizzi and pine needles baking in the sun that I could smell from my front porch. Giving lost folks on my dirt road directions based on names of those they were visiting and not the address of their destination. Seeing a rare lightning storm come down from the north in July. The smell of fire on an August night from the river canyon that jolted me out of bed. Years and years of New Years Day waffles at Bruce and Holly's house. The seasonal creeks that weaved its way through the meadow every spring. The ancient oak that fell over in the big meadow that became the symbol of our family's dissolve.  Pizza parties that smelled the whole house of burnt flour that took days to disperse. Taking trash to the dump. Bonfires and the smell of smoke in my clothes.

It is my heart today feeling the expansion and contraction of putting this to rest. Expansion of letting change take me on its merry wings, to fly to a new place. Contraction of how much I can feel resistance in myself to change and my mind that wants to know what it will look like. My heart has dove so deep into this process that I feel now saying goodbye to this life has been more powerful than the journey to it. And tears come today of equal parts love for myself and how I have let this carve me as it has, becoming more present for life and open-hearted for my humanness, and grief that a beautiful thing has been let go of.  I go inside myself then, where the only thing that matters is waiting like it has been since the first spark of sparks. The love of loving everything carries me beyond the illusion that there has been loss when now I know I am only finding myself. And this is what it always has been, a journey into love. Farewell Sumi house, old friend.

A month or so back a local farmer, friend and grain producer asked me to make some dishes to showcase his polenta for an event he was attending. I wanted an almost savory cake that would hold up for the traveling and sitting on a table while keep the ease of serving to hundreds of people. I found Dorie Greenspan's Ricotta Polenta cake recipe and decided to change it around to be more suitable for a hot summer day. It turned out really well.

I halved the sugar, substituted olive oil for butter, skipped all the fruit, added rosemary and added pine nuts to the top. A barely sweet, herbaceous, nutty summer cake.

Ricotta Polenta Rosemary Cake
Makes one 9x9 cake

grease your baking dish....

1 cup polenta
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup ricotta
1/3 cup lukewarm water
3/4 cup honey
zest of one lemon
1/2 cup olive oil
1 heaping tablespoon rosemary
2 large eggs
1/2 cup toasted pine nuts

With a hand mixer or standing mixer, beat eggs, zest, honey, ricotta, water and olive oil. Slowly add cornmeal, salt and flour, baking powder and rosemary.
Do not over mix; just mix until everything comes together.
Pour into a greased pan and sprinkle pine nuts on top.
Bake at 325 for 35-45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Updated Favorites List: Summer 2012

I am updating my Favorites List. Spilling a bit over into lifestyle. Let me know what you think. Here goes:

1. Favorite Campsite in California:
Gold Bluffs Beach Redwoods State Park

 I fell in love with California through and through when I stepped foot here. 

2. Most Favorite Spa. Ever.

It is Japanese inspired, top notch and the water is purified with UV light instead of chemicals. They have their own line of soaps and one of them is hinoki scented which smells like a real ofuro. I have been here many times and never tire of it. Sitting outside in a hot tub looking at the Santa fe is heavenly.

3. Favorite Coffee: I am not going to say I am a coffee snob. But, I do take it seriously. After I found Barefoot Coffee, I never looked back. Honey-process is the difference here. The natural sticky residue on the coffee beans are not rinsed off before roasting.  I think this makes the coffee smooth and less bitter than other coffee. 

4. If I could get on a plane and go anywhere tomorrow, I would go to Tiamo Resort, Andros Island, Bahamas.
This off-the-beaten-path destination has been on my radar for a bit of time now. I think growing up in Florida hooked me on the outer islands of the Bahamas. My girlfriend worked at Small Hope Bay Lodge on Andros back in the late 90's, and my visit to see her there as well as visits to Eluthera in my teens convinced me that remote beaches are worth the hassle of getting to.

5. Favorite Food Blog of the moment: Food 52
I have been going there for recipes lately. Usually I make all of my own recipes up. But they crowd-source theirs and I love the contests and appreciate when 25 or so other people make the recipe before me and then decide it is amazing. It is a sure bet in the food world.

6. Favorite Fast Food Joint on long drives: Chipotle
This started while living in Chicago 14 years ago. My bff Trish and I would eat there after work and we discovered their chips had lime juice and salt on them.  We would dip the chips in sour cream and then the chipolte hot sauce. Since then, it has become a pit stop for clean bathroom breaks and somewhat healthy food on the drive M and I often take to San Francisco. I completely appreciate consistency in restaurants, and that regard Chipotle never lets me down.

7. Coolest business I worked with this year: Cartelligent.
I will never step foot on a car lot again. They offer the very best price for a car. I called, told them what I wanted and hung up the phone. Next day they had special ordered the exact car I wanted for A LOT less than the dealerships had offered. Drove to their office, turned in my old car, signed papers and was driving away in my new car in less than 30 minutes. AMAZING.

8. Fashion Item I Could Not Live Without: Frye Boots.
I think my friends would say I am not a fussy dresser. I do hold my own when it comes to fashion however. Living in the country, I have learned to appreciate function over form for the most part. These boots are the very best people! The kind of boots you keep for 20 years. The kind of boots you can walk around in for 12 hours and still be comfortable. I am on my second pair now, and actually prefer these now over my trusty clogs and haviana flip flops which is saying a lot. They are spendy, but worth every dime.

9. Best Gadget I own: Petzl Zipka Headlamp
I started using this particular headlamp 5 or 6 years ago. It does not have a strap; instead has a retractable cord which makes it more compact. Great for kids too. I would be up craps creek on many occasions if I did not own this little gem. It fits in your pocket perfectly!

10. Best Fluff Website: Jezebel
This is what you get when smart people write about mindless things. Enough for me to be hooked. Any site that titles a story "The way to poop at work with 100% secrecy" has me as a reader. And I will end it with I am not so shallow as to let that be the only source of my news. I am a dedicated NYT Sunday reader and PubMed is a favorite online hangout for me.

Ok, there you have it.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Chilled Broccoli Basil Soup and Loving Ourselves

I am in the practice of using everything to lift. I like the usefulness of this practice because it is a direct route to loving ourselves. In my case, I was clocked in the head with the reality that I had been abandoning myself for a lot of my life. I did this by depending on outward love for validation that I was loveable. If my husband loved and accepted me, then I was ok. If he didn't, then something was wrong or flawed in me. A big part of our culture is based on this. You live a certain way, society accepts you and you feel like you belong. You look a certain way, then you are beautiful and successful. When you look outward into the world, this is a common message. No wonder when my husband and I split, I spun out. I had no legs to stand on because I gave those up a long time ago when I decided other people would decided how loveable I am. The big gift however was I was given the opportunity of my experience to see this and do something about it. I could trace this belief that validation happens outside of myself over many personal events in my life. But I wanted to move deeper into this idea after I understood that pattern I was working, and get to the part inside myself I could expand, so looking outward for certainty or love no longer was needed. This practice does not mean that I do not mess up anymore or become perfect however. If anything, it has expanded my compassion for the world by leaps and bound because now I see how we all get the opportunity to do this work every breath we take. So now I get to love my mess-ups as much as my achievements because they all are experiences on the same road, to the same destination. There is an immense relief for me to let go of the idea of perfection, and instead go towards acceptance. On this self-created stage of life, with all the actors and props of my own volition, I get to choose where to place my focus. Is it a disaster I am in the middle of, or is it an opportunity? Even if it seems like a disaster at first, I will be tender with myself while redirecting my focus, just as I am tender with my daughter when she falls down playing....

I made this soup for my CSK last week. Chilled soups are an easy, light food when it is hot outside. I pulled the mason jar filled with this soup out for lunch for a good part of last week. One distinction I make though, is chilled soup is not cold soup. Chilled in my vocabulary means cooler than room temperature but not cold. I take my soup out of the fridge about 30 minutes before serving, which allows the flavors to be more pronounced. It was incredibly easy making this soup. I love broccoli and basil together. Turns out that in soup it is very well paired.
You can double or trip this batch easily! Add a dollop of creme fraiche on top for a special garnish.

Broccoli Basil Soup
4 cups

2 cups water
2 cups lightly steamed broccoli (I kept the stems on)
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
zest of one lemon
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tbls. olive oil
1/2 cups fresh basil leaves (7-8 leaves)

Put in blender and blend until smooth; about 1-2 minutes.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Quinoa Blueberry Basil Salad

There is a local u-pick blueberry farm here where I live. Every year people flock to the family owned farm and stock up. I picked this season for my CSK share which I look forward to every week. Every week I plan the menu I will be making. Then 10 people (10 is the amount I can handle by myself) come and pickup their food and we chat and laugh and I get to introduce them to things like mizuna salad with miso tahini dressing. I brag a little about how the mizuna was picked that day, how the mizuna they are eating is also served in 3 star San Francisco restaurants. The young farmers who grow that mizuna drive those special greens all the way down to the bay because they are that good. This salad was a CSK creation too. I love blueberries and basil together! I added red quinoa, fresh sliced fennel, lemon zest and olive oil to round out a perfect summer dish.  This salad might have everything but the quinoa at the farmers market you currently frequent!

I have a really good friend going through a breakup right now. The fertile ground of strong emotions. She has a lot of women around her right now holding her tenderly. As we talk almost daily, I am brought back to my life when I was in her spot, and I was looking down the rabbit hole as I was falling through it. She has recognized this, and asked me a few times "Jess, how did you get through this?" It is difficult for me to watch her suffer; I have cried with her on more than one occasion. The memory of that pain is still fresh. The pain of your life shifting so radically and trusting you will get out on the other side is a big leap of trust. Now I appreciate my journey through heartbreak as one of the most profound things I have experienced. Yet I don't wish it on anyone. And so she and I hold hands, and I tell her she is in the worst part of things right now, that the container of support she has built will hold her, and mostly I just love her.  And I keep going back to loving everything. That idea, to love everything was the turning point for my grief. It was when I stopped drowning and started floating in the ocean of what was happening. Tall order though. How can we love cancer? Love the loss of a child? Love being fired from our job? Love the disease we have just been diagnosed with? I started with loving the grief. I did not try to change where I was or how I felt about what was happening. I spent so many days just crying and sad, that I started saying out loud to myself "Oh, I guess today I am having an especially sad day". Loving what was in front of me meant loving me while I was angry too. Loving my humanness. It is almost a paradox now that I grieved so deeply about my family breaking up and losing my partner, that now I am looking at a different set of fears to love around getting back into relationships. The work keeps coming I guess. I know my friend will make it through this heartbreak. She is plowing the fields in her heart right now, her tears being collected to water the seeds of her new life. Flowers more brilliant than the ones she has known are getting ready to blossom in their own perfect time.

Quinoa Blueberry Basil Salad
makes 4 servings

3 cups cooked red quinoa chilled
1 cup fresh basil torn into piecies
1 cup fresh blueberries
1 cup fresh thinly sliced fennel bulb
zest of a lemon
1 Tbls fresh lemon juice
2 Tbls olive oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Toss together and season to taste.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Coconut Blueberry Chia Seed Pudding

Tapioca pudding might be in my top 5 favorite desserts. It is on the heavy side though. Lots of carbohydrates from the tapioca starch. Then I discovered chia seeds. And a new kind of tapioca was born! I started loving chia seeds from drinking them in Kombucha. I became a fan and loved how full chia seeds made me feel. They have digestible omega 3 fatty acids, which are bio-available whole unlike flax seeds which need to be ground. Plus, chia seeds have a higher omega 6:3 ratio then flax seeds. So, this past weekend I made a new and improved dessert. The hardest part of making this pudding was not eating it all in one day.

Coconut Blueberry Chia Pudding:
makes 4 servings

1 can bpa-free and organic coconut milk (I used full fat and Native Forest Organic is bpa-free)
3/4 cup hot water
1/4 cup chia seeds
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch salt
2 cups fresh blueberries

Heat 3/4 cup water and pour over chia seeds in a glass bowl. Let sit for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally to get lumps out. The chia seeds will create a gel.
Add coconut milk, salt and maple syrup. Mix well and chill for 2 hours.
Top with blueberries!
The chia seeds will firm up a bit while chilling.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Japanese Turnip Coleslaw and "so what"...

 Do you like the Poet Mary Oliver? I do. She is fierce.

When it's over, I want to say all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.

When it's over, I don't want to wonder
if I have made of my life something particular, and real.

I don't want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don't want to end up simply having visited this world

Today I was driving home after dropping M with her dad. I noticed how I don't cry every time I drop her off now. There are so many weird stages to this whole splitting up process, it makes me dizzy. One of my mentors said recently "When anything in this world bothers you, or anything happens in this world that you don’t like, you are to tell yourself these words, "so what." So I have been experimenting with that. Mostly to myself. But after I did this for a while, a funny image emerged from my brain of saying "so what" akin to life being an obstacle course. Each "obstacle" in life is actually a secret present.  Every person, every encounter, every moment becomes more akin to party favor. My own party's party favor. It makes heartbreak oddly amusing. It dissolves any idea that there is a right and wrong to things. And when the inner critic pipes up and starts yelling orders, I can say "so what" to that too. When I find my mind looping the same soundtrack of self-sabotage that tells us we are not good enough, beautiful enough, talented enough, I say "so what." It has made the world a more beautiful place when I find myself not needing to change others or myself.  And, easier to let go of expected outcomes. (says the uber type-A gal writing this). My mind can chat away to itself. My mind can infinitely loop the visuals of expected outcomes. My heart is the one saying "so what." Because I love you so much, that's why. And that is how I am releasing myself from being a visitor of this world, and becoming the bride married to amazement. Thank you Mary Oliver. Thank you obstacle courses.

Salad turnips or Japanese turnips are making their debut. Crunchy, sweet and earthy like a radish, these turnips can be eaten raw. I like to use the green tops on these beauties which are light in flavor. Keeping with the japanese theme, I decided to make a light salad that is versatile and bright with toasted sesame seed oil. Lemon, oil and salt. That is all you need. I did squeeze the turnips after I grated them to remove the excess juice that I did not want to water down the salad. As soon as salt is added to the mix, the carrots and turnips will start to release their juices and that will dilute the flavor of the lemon zest and olive oil. These first early summer vegetables are special gems that look like little white pillows signaling salad days. Great with grilled fish or shrimp tempura. I would eat it on a hot dog too. But not on pizza. Maybe in a burrito though. Or as taco filling. Tossed in a green get the point. See, having a type-A blogger gives you lots of ideas. My expected outcome for this salad is that it would be versatile for many dishes or none at all.....xoxo

Japanese Turnip Coleslaw
makes 2 cups

1 cup grated turnip
1 cup grated carrots
1/2 heaping cup green turnip tops roughly chopped
zest and juice of 1 juicy lemon
pinch salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 tablespoon toasted sesame seed oil

After grating the turnips, squeeze out excess juice, then add to bowl. Toss all the ingredients together...Serve right away.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Orange Balsamic Dressing

Photo of the japanese house kitchen...rustic!

I did not tell you that I moved again. Three weeks ago, little M and I packed up and moved across town. I am in love with my new home. I would have stayed in our other place (on the same block as two of my girlfriends) forever, but my landlord needed to move back into the house.  My new house has a nice big kitchen! The cozy victorian had about two feet of kitchen counter space to work however, which was a drawback for my cooking. The japanese house had a kitchen the size of a postage stamp, so I am used to cooking in small spaces if need be. Because the japanese house was the real deal, inevitably the wildlife crashed the house party due to the thin layer between the domestic and the wild. One pre-kid night, my husband was out of town working. Bed was a futon on tatami mats, close to the floor. I felt something brush by my face in the middle of the night which woke me up. Turning on the lights,  I saw a skunk squeezing underneath the futon in a mad dash realizing what it had inadvertently walked into. In the middle of nowhere on a hot summer night with no air conditioning, I kept the doors wide open. Thankfully the skunk did not spray. But that openness in the wild has some hilarious stories I tell M when we are on long car trips. The day two random rottweilers came walking into the japanese house while I sat alone at the desk still sends shivers up my spine! That story I will share another time...I still feel very grateful for life's modern conveniences. Screens, toilets, trash pickup and washing machines especially.

Blueberry season is almost here! This past weekend celebrating my friend Kate's birthday, we ate a salad with fresh blueberries that was tossed with this dressing. Balsamic and blueberries pair very well together. I had never been a fan of balsamic vinegar before finding Calolea balsamic locally. I found many balsamic vinegars to be watery and tart. Some companies make balsamic with grape juice, vinegar, coloring and sugar. Calolea brand is sweet, thick and luscious. Made only with grapes. I added the zest of an orange along with its juice to keep the vinegary acid to a minimum and then added olive oil. I decided to make this dressing for my friend Wendy's CSK offering this week that I am contributing to. I work out of the commercial kitchen in her cooking school and we have become kindred friend spirits offering local farm food shares in our CSK's! She really shines at vegetarian food. She gifted M and I a quart of her coconut carrot ginger soup last week and today M's teacher told me that she asked to taste it when she walked by M at lunchtime after smelling its spectacular aroma!

Orange Balsamic Dressing:
makes a 1/2 pint

3 Tbls Balsamic Vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
zest of an orange
pinch salt
5 grinds of pepper

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Homemade Vanilla Creme Fraiche and an updated Favorites 2012 List

A dear old friend, who I nicknamed SBR suggest to me that I compile an updated favorites list. Sarah is a friend who I met freshman year in college. We lived in the same dorm together. I remember it being instant friend chemistry. Maybe though, I gave her no choice in the matter. I decided we were to be friends and I did not give up until she caved. She will probably laugh reading that. She has an awesome sense of humor. Very witty and smart. And a great laugh. I was so sad when she transferred colleges and went to MSU. We kept in touch all these years however, and now facebook makes it super easy to keep updated on each others lives. She is my friend who encouraged me to start a blog! This blog!

 We worked our way through our freshman year together doing jello shots at the local frat bar and hoping not to get stuck in the dorm elevator, which I believe we both did. She introduced me to a lot of the early 90's music I came to love; Morrisey, Concrete Blond, Widespread Panic and the BoDeans. I taught her how to use the dorm room washing machines.  She had a red toyota corolla, and in the days of cassette tape mixes, hers ruled supreme.  In the last few years, with an active pulse on things worth following, she has turned me on to Bon Iver and Suri's Burn Book. In case you have not read this pop fluff, it is really funny.  I laugh out loud reading it on occasion. Don't judge too harshly, we all have to have a little entertainment, right?

I thought about what would be on my favorites list for a few days.  It is somewhat intimate to share my favorite things. It could even be possibly more intimate than sharing my innermost struggles and thoughts. Because after this you will know that I drive down highways playing my music loudly, often repeating a song over and over until I cannot even hear a bit of it ever again. My post breakup (like three days after) song was Fleetwood Mac "Gold Dust Woman." Followed shortly by albums by Florence + Machine and Goldfrapp. But don't think I am a music gal by reading all these bits of info; really I am a food gal who like music. But not concerts. I am not fond of large crowds for the most part.  I have learned to tolerate airplane bathrooms though. And my hypochondria is more under control. Or rather I don't worry about my hypochondria as much, because I am less attached to worrying these days.

Anyway, here is a list of things I am currently pondering, as well as a recipe Creme Fraiche. It is so easy, so versatile you will be wowing your dinner guests in no time flat. I make mine with crushed vanilla beans. This goes great for both the savory or sweet route. Whipped vanilla creme fraiche is as outstanding on smoked salmon as it is over lemon curd.  And if you have not tried fermenting in your kitchen, this is an easy way to start your own version of kitchen chemistry.

Creme Fraiche:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
2 Tbls buttermilk
1/2 tsp. crushed vanilla seeds

A note about your cream. Try to find cream that is not ultra pasteurized. If the cream is ultra pasteurized, it usually says so on the carton. This will help the fermentation process along.
Mix the buttermilk, vanilla and cream together in a mason jar or something of the like. Let it sit on your counter for 24-48 hours or until it is thick like sour cream.  Stir once or twice to mix in the vanilla bean. Put in the fridge after it has thickened.
You can whip this like whipping cream or spoon it on dishes. I love mine over granola, lemon curd, mixed with fresh fruit, jam, whipped for spring pea puree appetizers. Last week I made a hazelnut crust pie with rhubarb, lemon curd and topped it with creme fraiche. It was really tasty.
The vanilla seeds I buy locally. If you cannot buy yours locally, maybe consider buying online. I use this packet of crushed vanilla seeds all the time in my baking. It does not spoil if you keep in the fridge and is an invaluable part of my pantry. And, much more cost effective than using a whole vanilla bean or vanilla extract. Plus for you gluten free folks, there is no fear of gluten like in vanilla extract.

Favorites List Spring 2012:

Pandora Station: 
Miles Davis
I thought my years of working in a jazz club in chicago might have burned out my taste for jazz, but turns out nothing can touch my love for Miles, especially while in the kitchen

iPod Artist in high rotation: (thank you Sarah for introducing me to Keane!)

Guilty Pleasure:
Vans Gluten Free Waffles


I eat these with butter and maple syrup. Emphasis on the butter. Sometimes I get tired of making food, and need someone else to do it for me. And, because I bought my first toaster oven a week ago, I can now toast waffles. Living off grid for so many years meant no electricity extras. Now I have PG&E to thank for my new kitchen gadget! I love splurging on ready made waffles!

New Food I am experimenting with:
Coconut Sugar

I have found sugar allergies on the rise with clients. I think it could be related to the bleaches and chemicals that make sugar white. Refined white sugar comes mostly from beets and corn. "Natural" sugar comes from sugar cane. I like coconut sugar because if you are allergic to sugar, this is usually a safe bet and has no chemical bleaches

My favorite new cookbook:
The Preservation Kitchen: by Paul Virant. I am in love with Aigre-Doux! 


This sour/sweet preserved preparation is new to my repertoire. I included it in my first CSK offering and it got good reviews. It is a mixture of honey, champagne vinegar and white wine made into a syrup and then processed with fruit or vegetables. I have been using meyer lemons because they are in season and local right now.

Favorite New Dish I am loving:
Raw Kale Caesar by Tartine
Eating a caesar salad with raw kale rocks. It just does.  I would come to your house and make this for you if I could, and turn you into a believer. It is about a thousand times better for you than romaine!


Supplement I am focusing on these days:
Turmeric and alpha lipoic acid in my antioxidant complex. Turmeric and its active components curcumin is a powerful anti-inflammatory, and I am really noticing the emerging science behind inflammation and chronic disease. Alpha lipoic acid helps raise glutathione in the body which is the "master antioxidant". It also helps regulate blood sugars, is fat and water soluble and great for eye health, brain function and detoxification.

Favorite Face Cream:
Weleda Cold Cream Lotion

Weleda Cold Cream
  This dense cream is great for sensitive, dry skin. My danish skin is so sensitive and this cream really adds good layer of moisture. It has no petro-chemicals or parabens!

Food I am buying in bulk at the co-op


Organic Valley Pasture butter. Because cows that eat grass instead of grains make butter that is better for you. More CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and Omega 3's than standard butter.

My favorite drink these days:
Dave's Enlightened Synergy Raspberry Chia Kombucha

 I like this drink for a couple of reasons. First it is filling, so I use it as a meal replacement or a tie-over to my next meal if I am hungry. Also there are 4grams of fiber per serving. And lastly, chia seeds are high in omega 3 fatty acids. Raspberry is my favorite flavor. I am drinking one right now as I type this...

The book every woman in the US should read according to my nutrition mind:

The Autoimmune Epidemic by Donna Nakazawa.
According to this book 1 in 9 women be diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in their life. The underlying reasons for the extraordinary jump in the last decade, is a toxic brew of external factors that have simply pushed the capacity of our immune systems to the brink collapse. Chronic inflammation from overly processed foods, vitamin deficiencies, xenoestrogens from the constant barrage of chemical exposures in plastics containing petrochemicals, bpa's, flame retardants, voc's..the list goes on and on. If there has ever been a reason to green your life or green your diet and home, this book will convince you. It brought me to tears quite a few times. There are poignant personal stories as well; women's journeys through medical mazes to get a diagnosis (sometimes it took 10 doctors for people get an answer) and the massive evidence that modern medicine for the most part, is not equipped with trained doctors, medicines or diagnostics to help. Extremely eye opening.

Favorite Mindless Blog:
Unhappy Hipsters...not because it is the most brilliant writing, but because every picture on the site is a house I would want to live in, and sometimes it makes me laugh.

Favorite book that has helped my soul this year:
Ok, a tie! So both books:

Elizabeth Lesser's book Broken Open. Oh how I loved this book. She is very human in this book, writing about how the worst disasters in our lives can be the very biggest gifts with great big bows on top.

Pema Chodron's book: When Things Fall Apart. Great for any kind of sadness. I would just grab it off the shelf and read a paragraph when I felt sad. It is lovingly used now, that the pages are dog-eared.

Ok that is it. Don't forget to pass along to me all your lists because you all have big things to share with world and I want to know all about it.


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