Tuesday, September 29, 2015

A local artist

On Sunday mornings at church, if I am sitting anywhere near Fern Hamlin, I watch her stitching away on her quilt squares.  She recently brought several of her quilts for display in our foyer and the worship area.  If you love to quilt or appreciate such handiwork, it is worth the trip to First Unitarian Church at 801 East Washington, in South Bend, Indiana to view her work.  Church is open for services from 10:00 am to noon every Sunday.  No need to attend the services to see the quilts, but while you are there, we'd love to have you join us for services as well.

Here are some pictures I took with my phone.  To appreciate her work, you need to see them up close and personal. Some squares are only 3/4" across, and every last one of them is hand stitched.  If you love what you see, they are for sale.  Prices range from $50 to $450, a real bargain!

Oh, one more thing - we are celebrating First Friday from 6:00 to 8:00 on October 2.  It's game night - bring your own or join in with someone else.  Or just wander around and look at these beautiful works of art.  Here is a preview.

My hand is in a few of these just to give perspective on the size of these squares - each one hand stitched!

I bought this one.  Fern is putting a sleeve in the back so that I can run a dowel through it and hang on the wall above my bed.

This is just breathtaking!  

My friend Jim bought this one.

We get to look at this one during services.  It's a good thing Rev. Chip's sermons are interesting, or we might lose focus.

The artist - Fern Hamlin.  Brava!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Paleo snacking at its best!

I just can't leave well enough alone.  I always seem to need something new to keep me interested in my business.  Right now, one of my biggest sellers is soaked and dried organic nuts -- walnuts, almonds and pecans.  They sell 10:1 against the plain organic nuts.  Why soak and dry?  It's a process that removes phytic acid from the nuts and makes them healthier.

So I got to thinking.  What if I mix them with some organic blueberries from our local market?  I can dehydrate them in my Excalibur dehydrator, which I use to dry the nuts after they are soaked in salt water.  Why not keep it busy - and BUY LOCAL?

Why stop there?  I have found an excellent (albeit not cheap) source of quality organic nuts and organic dried fruit.  So here's the lineup, all USDA organic:  Soaked and dried almonds, walnut halves, pecan halves, pepitas and sunflower seeds; local dehydrated blueberries; dehydrated sour cherries (mmmmm, I keep sneaking those from the package!) and sultana raisins; unsweetened coconut flakes; and yummy dark chocolate chips.

Then the ingredients are loaded into boxes, each box individually filled ingredient by ingredient, carefully weighed, so that each contains exactly the same amount of each ingredient.  Then a nice snap-on lid so you can dip in and munch, and then keep it covered (if you can) until the munchies hit you again.  This is paleo snacking at its best!

Stop by Purple Porch Wednesday night market or my booth at the Farmers Market for a taste and to purchase!  Available by mail as well.

Paleo Trail Mix - all organic ingredients

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Rivers and pickles

Well, the river is escaping.  My yard is a soggy mess, and if the river rises another six inches, it will be in full flood mode down there.  I saw the river out of its banks a couple of years ago, but I didn't live here than.  We are not, I repeat NOT, in a flood zone where the houses are.  They are really quite a bit higher than the river.  From the street to the back of my house, there is a nine foot drop in elevation.  Then the lawn gently slopes for a length of about 250 feet to the river bank.  The houses are pretty close together at the street, but we are all blessed with these huge, lovely grassy lawns between house and river.  My lot is just shy of a half acre.

My yard
Neighbor's yard
One more good rain, and it will look like a lake, not a river, with our river's edge trees looking like they are on tiny islands in the middle of the lake.

On another note, the pickles are in at the farmers market.  I started some New York sour pickles this morning.  I didn't have any whey, so I threw a teaspoon of kefir into the mix.  And the only oak tree I have on the property is this weird saw tooth oak.  I hope the leaves have tannin in them.  That is what makes the pickles crisp, without using alum.

Yum!  Five days to crisp New York sour pickles with garlic!
 Well, back to the kitchen to clean up, then church, then company this afternoon.  Hope it doesn't rain!!!!!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Taking a lazy day with a box of recipes.

The recipe box

My daughter Valerie and I have always shared a love of cooking and eating.  I found an old recipe box and went through it, thinking, "This would make an interesting cook book."

Many of the recipes are handwritten, with notes on them from relatives and old friends.  We don't do that anymore.  Everything consists of sending a link for an internet recipe in an email or Facebook message.  I remembered how many of them I had actually used and enjoyed.  If someone takes the time to laboriously write out a recipe by hand, you know it is going to be good!

In this box, which Val and I painted and decorated so many years ago, there were recipe cards, recipes cut out of newspapers and folded to fit, folded lined paper, and several on yellow lined paper that were obviously cut from the same sheet, each just a few inches long and folded in half.

A peek at the treasures

I enjoyed looking through the recipes, especially the ones marked "Good!" in red ink.  Some are in my mom's handwriting, some in Val's, others in my own -- most with the source clearly marked, from a magazine or cookbook, a friend or a family member.  A few were marked, "This is my own recipe."

Some of the treasures I found include my grandmother Wolff's recipe for a cooked dressing to use on her potato salad.  Then there was another card marked, "a lot like Grandma Wolff's dressing, a lot easier, but it doesn't taste as good."  And one was marked "Miss Smith's caramels, 1929."  Miss Smith was my mom's home ec teacher at Tonica Community High School, the same school I graduated from thirty years later in 1959.   My daughter makes those caramels every Christmas, and everyone loves them.  Another treasure is a recipe for a fish salad that I thought was gone forever.  It sits on the pile of recipes that were pulled out so that I can make them again soon. 

The treasures - to be made again soon

I found a recipe for meatballs from my husband's secretary.  The meatballs are rolled into balls but not browned, just dropped into the rich tomato sauce and simmered for three hours, sort of like dumplings in broth.  I remember they were well worth the time and effort.

I always loved my mom's chicken soup with her homemade noodles.  But I found two recipes, not one.  I'm pretty sure which is the one I loved so much, but I may have to make both just to be sure.  ;-)

The funniest one was my mother's spell for getting rid of warts - she told me, and I carefully recorded, every German word she uttered when someone came to see her with warts that nothing had worked on so far.  It worked surprisingly often, although most times not.  I suppose the times it worked, the warts were about to say adieu anyway, but she got quite a reputation.  Such fun to see that I have the spell, preserved until someone goes through my things when I pass and throws the whole box away.

Some of the notes were touching, some brought tears to my eyes, including one for pretzels that my daughter-in-law, who passed away a little over a year ago, wrote down for me so many years ago, I think when she and my son were dating.

So many memories - of people, of special dishes, of family gatherings.  It has been a lovely afternoon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Why I gave up Diet Coke and sugar free gelatin

I eat healthy food - with one exception.  I love Diet Coke.  Once I gave it up for six years, only to fall back into my bad habit during the first few months of going low carb.  My doctor, who was supervising my journey into a ketogenic diet to control the effects of bi-polar disorder, pointed out that I couldn't expect myself to be totally without sin in my diet; if Diet Coke helped me to stay the course, then drink a few.

A few?  I know not the meaning of that phrase.  First it was one each market day while I closed out the register.  That meant four a week in the summer, three a week in the winter.  Skip to current consumption, four years later.  I was up to a case (24, not 12) most weeks.  If I was being good, maybe I could get an extra couple of days out of the case.

My friends chided me about it.  They pointed out that it was "poison."  My reaction was to think they needed to butt out - and I would pop open another can.

The other day I saw a list of signs of aspartame poisoning.  I had at least one symptom in EVERY category on that list. Click this link for a list of symptoms of aspartame poisoning.  The worst of it was my body pain.  I blamed it on arthritis, although in a family full of arthritis, I had seemed to be the one who was spared until recently.  I began taking Celebrex and got some relief, also from the bursitis in my hips.  But then I found that I was having to add Tylenol For Arthritis to the mix once a day, then twice a day, and finally getting up in the night because the pain was so severe, to take a third dose, the max allowed in a 24-hour period.

After reading the list of aspartame poisoning symptoms, I poured the remains of a Coke down the drain.  I could no longer deny it - I was poisoning my body, and it's the only one I've got!  The few that were left in the fridge went into an out-of-reach space in a cupboard.  I need them there.  That seems to work better for me than completely purging them from the house.  Maybe later, but not yet.

So how am I feeling?  The pain got better almost immediately.  But it was still there, and I always hobbled for a few steps when getting out of bed, or after a few minutes in my computer chair.  This morning, I got out of bed and started walking gingerly towards the bathroom, and then realized "no hobbling necessary."  Wow!

Okay, so I am confounding this by also beginning yin yoga (See more about yin yoga here.) But there is no way that two days of yin yoga could be responsible for this new freedom of movement.  In fact, I was able to get considerably deeper into my poses this morning and did not have to come out of them due to pain.

I am thankful for friends who nagged me.  They cared more about me than I was caring about myself.  Thanks to all who scolded.  It was a measure of love, not judgment.  :)

Update to my blog - a new mistake about to happen

I am clarifying the first paragraph only on my previous blog, based on information of which I just became aware when perusing the net for information on fat intake and health.  I spoke of Ancel Keys's chicanery in presenting data that led many to believe that eating saturated fat would lead to heart disease.

First, here is the link to the Raw Foods SOS blog (written by Denise Minger) that dealt with Keys, if you care to plow through a lot of data. The truth about Ancel Keys.  I swallowed the current conventional wisdom that Ancel Keys was mistaken in saying there was a correlation between fat consumption and heart disease.  HOWEVER . . .   If you take the time to read through this well-written blog, you will see that in fact there was a correlation between the two.  But remember that correlation is not causation.  And the blogger goes on to rip apart the methodology, including the data collection, concluding that we do not have to become vegans to be healthy, and in fact should not look to such a diet to improve health.   

What the author showed when combing through this data is that it focused only certain types of heart disease in looking for correlation.  When mortality rates were used (which to my mind is a pretty good way to measure overall health), in fact, those who ate more fat could expect to live LONGER.  Again, remember that correlation is not causation.  The author points out that countries whose population eat a lot of fat in general are more wealthy -- which means better healthcare, better food in general -- and so confounds any conclusions on the matter.

Enough said.  My apologies for not doing the diligence that the the writer of Raw Foods SOS did.  I appreciate her work.  Check out this blog!