Friday, December 30, 2016

My new car - and my other new car

I drove my Prius for nearly 200,000 miles, longest I have ever driven any car. It was very useful on the farm. I hauled hay and straw in it, during greenhouse season I could squeeze 17 flats of plants in it. More than one newborn calf took a ride in that car. I got it stuck in fields, had to pull it out of the mud more than once with the tractor. And I hauled milk to the farmers market, where the shareholders picked it up. Occasionally there was a spill. But it soldiered on.

I finally traded it in after moving to town. The guy at the garage told me gently that the car had some odor issues. Oh, really? LOL

I had done my research, and I bought a VW Jetta, diesel, SEL, which was the top of the line. I loved it. On the highway, it got 57 mpg on one trip to Rockford to visit my grandson and his family. It loved to go fast, and the faster I drove, the better the gas mileage!

I had owned it about six weeks when the news hit. VW had deliberately programmed their diesel cars so that they sensed when they were in a testing station, and emissions all met standards. Once the car was on the road, the computer sensed that they were NOT in a test station and reprogrammed the car to run like a deer and get great mileage. They were also producing between 10 and 40 times the allowable amount of nitrogen oxides. That's smog, and that's what irritates lungs.

In Indiana, where we can boast having the worst air in the nation, there are no emission tests for automobiles, of course, so I could have kept driving my car. But being a tree hugging progressive, and remembering a granddaughter with asthma when she was a baby, how could I keep the car, no matter how much I loved it? So I opted to sell my car back to VW.

The local dealer didn't have much choice on the lot for a replacement car, but there was one I fell in love with. I could have waited until I got my refund and bought a different make of car, but I had driven a dog (let's face it, you don't buy a Prius for a power trip) for six years, and my Jetta was fun to drive. So I bought a 2016 Jetta GLI, 2.0 liter engine, drove even better than the 2015 diesel! It sat in my garage, in storage, to keep the insurance down, until the VW dealer pointed out to me that if I wrecked the 2015, which I was continuing to drive, it would no longer be eligible for the buyback program, and even if I was not at fault in the event such an accident should occur, the car would be valued at book, which ain't much, thanks to VW's chicanery. So the diesel went into the garage in storage, and the new 2016 GLI came out. The VW buyback program accounted for the loss in value, and we are being compensated quite well for that difference.

My appointment to return the 2015 diesel Jetta is January 18. I will finally be able to put the new car in the garage. I never dreamed I would own two brand new cars within 15 months of one another. But as of January 18, this single person household will finally be a single car household again.

GLI waiting for its turn in the garage

Friday, December 16, 2016

My dear, dear Tashi - have I found the solution?

Tashi has had a rough couple of years. Shortly before we left the farm, she developed small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO), which went undetected for months. Her weight dropped from 63 to 44. I complained, took her to the vet, but answer was she needed to lose weight anyway. But I hadn't changed her food, she had no physical symptoms such as diarrhea or vomiting and still ate with gusto. She was down to about 55 when we moved from the farm. So I did attribute the continued weight loss to her depression. She HATED city living. Her depression was obvious, nearly palpable.

Weight continued to drop. I finally asked to see the head vet at the clinic I went to, and he was alarmed. A 15% loss of weight is cause for concern, and she had reached 30%. Dr. Hoeffert is a great diagnostician, and he immediately thought of SIBO. Tests confirmed it was most likely the problem. Meds didn't help much. I started feeding her kefir. I think that helped as much as anything. It helped to get good bacteria into her system to combat the bad guys. I started making her food so that she got a low carb diet, since SIBO loves carbs. And since she had become a very picky eater, she ate better if the meal was chicken gizzards, liver and turkey that mom made just for her.

Little by little, she gained weight. Then I went on vacation. The person whom I hired to watch her had specific instructions on how to feed her - it took a lot of coaxing. Against my specific instructions, he put food on the floor and left the house for his sister's most days, leaving her alone. She had finally gotten up to 48 pounds when I left her, but in two weeks was back down to 44. Poor thing.

Feeding her was a big deal. Spoon feeding the first few bites was helpful, but then I had to stand beside her. If I left, she left the bowl. If I stayed there, I could watch her, and if she quit eating I would spoon feed a couple more bites. Gradually we got her weight back up to 54, which is the maximum optimum weight for her. I was delighted.

Eating? Well, it had to be home cooked. That worked for a bit, and it did help her to gain weight. But her BUN numbers weren't looking good because I didn't have enough carbs in it, so Dr. Rock suggested adding sweet potatoes and rice or oatmeal, which I did. He also thought she might be having stomach aches, so she got Pepcid twice a day. Nothing really helped.

Through all of this, her behavior was becoming what can only be described as aberrant. In the midst of all this, she lost her lifelong companion, Ayn Chee, to cancer. We got another dog, and while they got along okay, it was not the same for her, and I knew she missed Ayn Chee even more than I did. The behavior got worse. There was much clawing at me, pushing my hands off the computer keys, and nights were hell. The vet prescribed Xanax for her, and it seemed to help for a bit, but then it made no difference at all. She would circle around in the bed, panting pitifully. She would scratch at me, sometimes right across my face. There was no locking her out of the room; she would claw at the door to get back with me. I seriously considered putting her down. I was also sure she was suffering from dementia. based on all of the crazy behavior. Many trips to the vet, many tests run, nothing apparently physically wrong with her led me to that conclusion. It was time to suck it up and accept my old dog was in her final days, and they weren't going to be pretty.

There would be a good day or two now and then. Cooking for her was time consuming, and didn't seem to be all that effective anyway. I started buying grain free soft food, salmon and sweet potatoes being her favorite. I also bought grain free dry dog food with freeze dried wild game bits in it, and mixed the two with the last of her homemade food. She would eat a little of both with coaxing. Gradually all of the homemade dog food was eaten up.

She seemed to be doing better. In fact, we went six days without the crazy behavior, and mealtimes, while a little slow, were better. She would even occasionally eat some of the dry dog food with nothing on it. It was good to hear her crunching away.

Last Saturday, I had some leftover sweet rolls from the market. She loves, loves, LOVES bread! I gave her some ends, which of course she scarfed right down. That night, we had another very bad night. In the morning she was trying to crawl in my lap as I sat at the computer, and she clawed at my arms to get my hands off the computer keys.

Duh! My dog is allergic to grain. In the ensuing week, I have not given her so much as a bite of bread. I am checking her treats for grain - no grain for Tashi. Life is good.

What kind of distress has she been going through? I kept saying to her, "Tashi, I wish you could tell me what is wrong, what hurts, what you are feeling." She is asleep at my feet right now. No more trying to pull my hands off the computer keys. No more panting and circling in the bed. No more lying on top of my body or scratching at my face at night. My dog is just fine, thank you! Dementia? I don't think so. Tashi and I are both at peace again.

Tashi enjoying her food - without coaxing.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

First U Service Auction fundamentals

The First Unitarian Church of South Bend has a fund raiser each fall. We offer things, and other members and friends bid on them. We provide the work or the food or whatever, and the church gets the funds. It is our biggest fund raiser. Everyone has a great time, and since we all pretty much like each other, we know we are going to enjoy sharing a meal or a game night or a croquet match with people whom we like.

Everybody wins.

I buy gardening help every year from one of our members. Well worth it! Kathy is great, knows her stuff, pointed out last night that I had sweet woodruff in my rose garden and made sure it stayed. I've never cleaned up what obviously was the rose garden. This place sat empty for seven years, all gardens untended. One by one, I have recovered them (with Kathy's help) or taken them out and put grass seed in. Only the rose garden remained, wild and unattractive. This year, I got two lovely tea roses. I'm sure they were Mr. Lincoln - deep red, velvety petals and that lovely scent. I had a rose garden in Chicago. If the rose didn't have a pronounced scent, it didn't make the cut in my garden. Peace Rose, no scent, no dice. Chicago Peace rose, wonderful scent, made room.

My rose garden was a mess. Yesterday Kathy attacked it with her usual vigor. By the time she left, with our early darkness creeping in, it was cleaned out, edged, three rose bushes discovered and pruned, and all was right with the world!

Kathy at work

Lotsa rocks!



I am imagining sitting on the bench next summer, with tea roses scenting the air around me.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Where did Holly go?

As many of you know who follow my blog, my cat, Holly Berry, doesn't like the new dog Figgy Pudding, a.k.a. Fred.

Holly loves Tashi. They often kiss. When Holly was a little kitty, she even let Tashi carry her around in her mouth. But Fred? It was hate at first sight. In fact, when he first joined the household she disappeared for days at a time, and I feared she was looking for a new home, one without Fred. But she always came back, in spite of frequent absences.

She has gotten much better. She now lives on the first floor of the house a good bit of the time, and she even has been spotted about half way up the stairs to the second floor. She will stay in the same room with Fred, sometimes for an hour or so. Sometimes if Fred looks at her - that is all it takes, just looking at her - she's off. But this morning she was in the Christmas Tree box and was enjoying it enough that she stayed put even when Fred got within a foot of the box, even when (gasp!) Fred looked at her!

I went down to the basement for another box of holiday stuff and found one of Holly's collars between a couple of boxes. I was pretty sure she had spent a little time back there, but I didn't realize how much time until I pulled out a box with holiday hand towels and candles. Everything was covered in white cat hair! No wonder I couldn't find her; she was living inside a box, not on top of it or behind it. Little rascal!

Some of the stuff had to go. It was beyond salvaging. Hand towels are in the wash. Runner - I don't want to wash it, hoping a pet hair roller will take care of it. Candles, some I was able to clean up with a damp paper towels. Some went into the trash.

Goofy cat! Gotta love her. Fred will celebrate a year with our family in a couple of months. I wonder if Holly Berry will be sleeping with us by then. Maybe?

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Do you remember Jumer's cinnamon rolls?

My Illinois roots are showing. When going through my mom's recipe box recently, I found her recipe for Jumer's Castle Lodge cinnamon rolls. I remember my mom saying this was the real Jumer's Castle Lodge recipe. So even though Jumer's has closed its doors for good, their rolls can live on! If you know anyone from Peoria or Bloomington in Illinois or from Bettendorf, Iowa, they will remember Jumer's and these tastey little cinnamon bites. We hope they become a favorite here in South Bend-Mishawaka as well!

The famous Jumer's cinnamon rolls

Want to try some? Available at my booth at the Farmers Market in South Bend today! 

50¢ each or 3 for $1.00.  

Jumer's was an Old World attraction with its Bavarian theme. Elegant, yet it was always within reach of the average person. The lodge was known for its eclectic collection of antiques and German bric-a-brac that included a stuffed black bear. It was truly a unique experience in the Midwest.

I think this was the Peoria site

Need a little bling in your life?

Not too shabby

Dine in style - lots of German dishes.

Monday, November 28, 2016


I gave away or sold about 100 cookbooks when I moved. If I hadn't used them at all, or was not enthralled with recipes I had used, then if the books were nice, there was a price tag on them, otherwise they went into the pile of a quarter or free.

My new bookcase (part of my birthday present from me to me) is comfortably full, and I have resisted the urge to buy more than the one cookbook that got added to the shelf about a month ago.

Today is a reading type day. While I could spend time in the soap room (need to manufacture pain relief cream, lemon skin renew and triple rose) or cleaning up my office (think large garbage bag), I grabbed a beautiful cookbook from the shelf. It's called Soup - a way of life, by Barbara Kafka. I don't think I have ever cooked a thing out of it, but perhaps today is the day.

I'm making the best of a soggy day, which for once includes a little free time. Hope you make the most of your soggy day, too.

Some days are good, some days are bad, but time heals (I hope)

I have been on an emotional roller coaster since the election. I'm trying hard to see the good that Donald may bring to our country, but it has been hard to ignore the bad . . . the uptick in hate crimes, young men grabbing women's breasts and saying it is okay because he said so, his cabinet picks (mostly appalling!), the effort right here in my home state to rescind laws that were passed to protect the LGBTQ community. Enough said about that. For now I wear my safety pin and live with it. If you don't know about it, click on this link: Safety Pin movement

I was shopping in a local store and the person waiting on me saw my pin. He was so helpful, and our conversation wandered away from sport watches. He had seen the pin, told me he was part of the LGBTQ community and was very happy to see the pin. Before I moved on to another part of the store, we hugged. There is goodness out there.

My old dog Tashi continues to have good days and bad. My mood rides the waves with her. If she eats with gusto, I am happy all day - until the next meal when she walks away and refuses to eat. Tashi developed a hot spot. Benedryl took care of the itching, but it was infected. I went to vet, felt the yarrow cream and Benedryl might not be enough. They trimmed hair away and cleaned it up. She is on a round of prednisone, which some people say is bad for dogs. However, if you have a dog that refuses to eat about half the time, it is a good thing. She is eating better. I am hoping it will change her eating habits, and that she will continue to eat well after the medicine is out of her system. And the hot spot is healing up nicely, no itching at all. She is also on antibiotics. Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do. My friends who are into using natural cures thought I shouldn't have gone the prednisone and antibiotic route, but I chose to do it, and so far am happy with her response.

I have been getting kind of pudgy - no weight gain, but very soft around the middle. Depressing. When you quit throwing around bales of hay and hoisting milk cartons into the trunk, you get soft. So I started doing Crossfit. You do not know the meaning of pain and exhaustion until you have done your first Crossfit workout! But the belly is getting flat. No weight loss, but I don't really care. 5:30 am, three days a week. Feeling good!

So that's a summary of my recent ups and downs. There will be more. Tashi is snoring gently at my feet, and I was able to put weight on the bar when doing backsquats this morning. Definitely an "up" day. Hope yours is too.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

NEW RECIPES - three low carb recipes for the holidays

You will not have to feel left out at the Thanksgiving table with these three treats.


Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Line a half sheet or cookie sheet with parchment or use a silpat sheet. Put six to eight piles of shredded cheese, evenly spaced, on the sheet. (You can get eight on the sheet if you form them into ovals.) I use about two tbsp. per cracker. Put in the hot oven for 7 minutes. Watch them closely so they don't burn!

Remove from oven and immediately put on cooling rack. Experiment with size, also with types of cheese. Even the brand of cheese will affect the outcome, so when you find one you really like, make note of it for future batches.

6 of these crackers provide ONLY 1 GRAM OF CARBOHYDRATE! And they will stand up to dip.

Faux mashed potatoes:

Boil a head and a half of cauliflower (or two smallish heads) roughly chopped in a large pan of water with 1-1/2 tsp. sea salt. Drain thoroughly. In fact, I put the cooked cauliflower in the sink in a colander and forget about it for an hour or more so it gets good and dry. Put the drained cauliflower back into the pot you used to boil it. Throw in half (or more) of an 8 oz. package of cream cheese. Use a stick blender to thoroughly blend, or use a food processor and do in batches. When ready to use, heat in a heavy bottom sauce pan over very low heat, watching to make sure it doesn't burn. Use like mashed potatoes.

Four ounces of cauliflower provides 3 net carbs, and the cream cheese will add about another gram to that four ounce serving.


The better the stock you use, the better the gravy will taste. I have even used canned broth, and it's pretty good. Start with two cups of broth or stock. Heat it and reduce it by about a fourth to enrich the flavor. Lower the heat and add about a tbsp. (or to reach the consistency you like) of xanthan gum. Beat well with a wire whisk while you increase heat and bring it back to a boil. It takes a bit before it thickens. Start on the low side with the xanthan gum, as it will thicken as it sits. Last thing, add some heavy whipping cream. I put about a half cup of cream in the amount listed here. Bring back up just to the boil and immediately remove from heat.

So now you too can have "potatoes" and gravy on Thanksgiving Day. What a deal if you can get the hostess to give you a bit of turkey stock, a pan and a whisk (bring your own stash of xanthan gum) and make your own gravy. I doubt the diners will know which is the low carb gravy!

Per 1/4 C. of gravy  - less than one carb.

Let's talk dessert:

Forget the pie. Just cross it off your list. But how about a big bowl of whipped cream with vanilla? You can add a tbsp. of sugar free vanilla pudding, or go all natural and add a tsp. of real maple syrup. If you are really, truly minimizing carbs and using little or no artificial sweeteners in your diet, that tsp. of maple syrup will add only 4 carbs and will provide an explosion of sweetness! The cream is about 3/4 grams carbs per ounce. You do the math and decide how much you want to splurge.

For a point of reference, a piece of pumpkin pie has 43.4 net carbs. Does that help you make a choice?

Oh, one last note - a slice of turkey, any size - 0 grams carbs. :)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

NEW RECIPE - Low carb Belgian waffles

This one is pretty simple, and pretty tasty. I found a recipe for chocolate waffles and invested big money in low carb chocolate whey protein powder from grass fed cows. AND I bought a waffle iron! Big investment. But I really didn't like them. Too much artificial sweetener in them. I wish they hadn't sweetened the whey protein at all and just left it to us to add what we wanted. Oh, well.

So now, there is a waffle iron sitting on my counter, and I have to find a way to use it, of course. And I did. These waffles are much tastier to me, and you add the sweetener to your own liking. I am a firm believer in minimizing even artificial sweeteners, as I do think that sweet taste on your tongue, from whatever source, is apt to make you crave more food, especially sweets.

You will need to invest in a box of Carbquik. (Click on this link for more info:  Carbquik FAQs ) Hopefully you have a waffle iron tucked somewhere in a cupboard. If not, St. Vinnie's, Goodwill and Salvation Army shops are my go-to stores, especially for stuff I am not going to use often.

Low Carb Waffle - single serving (This can be doubled or quadrupled with no problem.)

Turn on your waffle iron. I like mine brown and crisp so I set it on high.

1 large egg, beaten
1/3 C. Carbquik
1/4 C. heavy cream
1/4 C. (or less) water
1 TBSP light olive oil
1 tsp. (or to taste) xylitol for sweetening - or your zero carb sweetener of choice

You can add a spice of your choice. I add about a half teaspoon of Mom's Apple Pie Spice, which is available at my booth. Or just add a healthy shake of cinnamon, nutmeg and whatever sounds good and is at hand. The size of your egg will make a difference, So don't put all of the water in - save a little to thin it more if it is too thick.  It should be fairly thin but not "soupy."

Beat all of the ingredients together. My waffle iron beeps to let me know it is hot enough just about the time I am done with the batter. Pour it into the middle of the iron and put the lid down. It takes about six minutes for mine to be as done as I like.

Put on warmed plate. (Waffles seem to cool down too fast, so a warm plate helps.) Top with about a tablespoon of soft butter, and dig in! If you want to add a tsp. of maple syrup, go for it.  But remember, it's 4.5 carbs per teaspoon, so use with discretion. I really don't think it needs any syrup - just LOTS of butter!!

Here are the nutritional values per waffle.

Calories: 370 / Net Carbs: 3.2 / Fat: 21.8 (not including added butter) / Protein: 12.6 / Fiber: 14 (fiber is already subtracted for net carbs)

Half a waffle - I already ate the other half!

Did a lot of research before purchasing - this is a good machine.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

What is Samhain?

Samhain (pronounced Sow' en) is one of the eight Sabbats on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. It is also known as All Saints Day, Dia de los Muertos, and All Souls Day. It is the Sabbat when the veil between the living and the dead is very thin, connoted by the many skeletons we see in celebrations.

This is a time when we may try to get in touch with someone who has gone before us. How do we do this? At our Unitarian Church, we celebrate the Sabbat with a silent supper, during which no one speaks. The tables are set with one place setting unused by the living, but hopefully visited by those who have passed before us. Those wishing to remember a loved one may bring a picture or some small amulet as a reminder of him or her. Some bring favorite foods that are put on the plate in the place of honor.

Our great room is lit with candles only. Once we invoke the spirits of the four directions and cast the circle, then there is silence throughout the meal. It is a solemn time, with the only noise the clink of silver on plates.

This Sunday evening, we will celebrate Samhain at 4:00 pm with a potluck dinner, empty places at each table, and a myriad of candles throughout the hall. Who will join us?

It is a sacred time. If you are interested in attending, send a comment to this post.

Pictures from the past . . .


Monday, October 24, 2016

NEW RECIPE - spicy deviled eggs

These are low carb deviled eggs. But then, they all are, unless you add sugar to them, or maple syrup.

I was cleaning the fridge and thought these "extras" from my fridge would enhance deviled eggs, which can get a bit boring when you are on a ketogenic diet. These are definitely NOT boring.

Spicy Deviled Eggs

6 hard boiled eggs
Put eggs in a pan large enough to hold them in one layer. Cover completely with cold water and throw in a half teaspoon of salt to help them peel easier. Set over high heat, no lid on pan. Bring to full rolling boil (should take six to ten minutes, depending on your stove).

When the water boils, turn off heat and put lid on. Set a timer for 10 minutes. If eggs are extra large, then set the timer for 12 minutes. When the timer goes off, immediately pour off the water and pack ice cubes around eggs, then put cold water over all until the eggs are covered. They are ready to peel and use within about 10 minutes, or can be stored in the fridge for several days.

If you are using right away, chop three pieces of bacon into fine dice and cook over low heat while you are doing the eggs. Drain the bacon well.

Peel the eggs, cut in half and turn yolks (which should be beautiful with no green around the edges) into a bowl. Mash with a fork. Add 1/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 C. mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip, which has sugar in it), 1 tsp. white wine vinegar (one with zero carbs), and a piece of chipotle in adobo sauce (about 1" x 1") which has been finely chopped. Split a scallion long ways into quarters, remove all but an inch or two of green top, and chop finely. Add to the bowl along with the drained bacon bits. Stir to combine and stuff the egg halves.

Garnish each deviled egg with a cilantro leaf.


Deviled eggs  with a kick

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

LOW CARB LIVING - Getting started!

12 points of light to help you get started. . .
1 Be mentally prepared. This isn't easy, but YOU CAN DO IT!
2 Go to and start tracking what you eat. Put your meal into the Atkins site BEFORE you eat, and check where you are on your daily intake. It's easier to make adjustments earlier in the day.
3 If you are able (if you live alone), get rid of the bad stuff, throw it away, take it to a soup kitchen, feed it to the dogs, give it away to your friends who are not into low carb eating.
4 Make things ahead.
5 Shop and read labels.
6 For a treat, save up your carbs (eat stuffed celery, eggs and cauliflower all day) so you can splurge on a dinner. You can eat really well if you still have 15 carbs left to consume for dinner.
7 You WILL get full faster! Better not to put too much food on your plate, but if you are full and there is still stuff on the plate, leave it for a snack (or throw it away, or give it to the dog)..
8 This is a program to enhance your overall health. Losing weight is a side-effect of low carb living, Take it from me, it will be harder to do if your only goal is weight loss.
9 What about exercise? If you don't already exercise, now is not the time to start. Give it a few weeks to get used to the new way of eating. Exercise will make you hungrier so be prepared. No carb loading! It just doesn't work.
10 Focus on what you CAN have, not on what you CAN'T have. How about a thick hamburger topped with crumbled Gorgonzola cheese? Or six fat shrimp poached in half a stick of butter? Or steamed broccoli dripping with homemade cheese sauce?
11 Journal daily. One sentence is enough. Record your mood, any new aches & pains, and note the ones that have gone away. 
12 Weighing: Save it for one day a week. If you weigh daily and you lose, you will have a tendency to eat an extra treat or two. If you gain, you could feel cheated – you were good and you still gained, so why try? Once a week will even out the daily fluctuations.

Monday, October 10, 2016

NEW RECIPE - Amy's Pork Carnitas

Amy and I met at my booth at the market. I think it was when I was selling lamb. She LOVES lamb, so that's a good guess! Anyway, we both enjoy food and cooking. We've exchanged several recipes.

Amy loves to garden. She invited me over one Sunday afternoon and I got to see her lovely city garden. I was impressed by all she grew in a small space. She had loads of tomatoes and tomatillos. So what do you make at season's end? Salsa verde, of course. And she blessed me with a pint jar of it, as well as her recipe for pork carnitas.

Ready to eat

If you use wraps and rice, this is NOT low carb. However, there are some low carb options for wraps, or just make up a big plate of cauliflower rice and top it with the spicy pulled pork.

Here's Amy's recipe.

Mix a dry rub:
1 tbsp. chili powder
2 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
2 tsp. ground cumin

  1. Rub on pork butt or shoulder, about 4 pounds.
  2. Coarsely chop one yellow onion and place in bottom of a crock pot.
  3. Place pork on onion,
  4. Pour jar of Amy's salsa verde over the top (or store bought if you don't know Amy!)
  5. Cover and set on high for 5 to 6 hours,
  6. Break pork apart and mix. Taste and add salt if needed.
  7. Serve with hominy or rice (cauliflower rice for us low carbers), roll in burrito (or a coconut wrap for us low carbers), or just pour over chopped lettuce.
  8. Crumble or chop Mexican cheese on top, such as Oaxaca or caso blanco, and add some avocado slices or cilantro. 
Nutritional values are for the meat and cauliflower rice only. Be sure to add in your carb count for other accompaniments if you are using them.

Per serving:

Carbs Fat Protein Calories

TOTALS 4.23 35.04 42.66 515.69

% of total calories 5.2% 42.8% 52.1%

Cauliflower rice:
Per serving: grate 3/4 C. cauliflower and brown lightly in 2 tsp. olive oil for 2 minutes. Add salt and red pepper flakes to taste. Put on plate and top with pulled pork from crock pot.

Carbs  Fat  Protein  Calories

TOTALS 1.70  2.96 1.10 38.40

% of total 17.7%  69.4%   11.5%

This is a great fall treat. Enjoy!

Sunday, October 2, 2016

NEW RECIPE - Susan's Low Carb Chili

With the hint of fall in the air, it seemed time to update my chili recipe. Getting the nutritional values right is very time consuming. I built a model so that I can do it my way. It allows me to play with the recipe, adding or minimizing to get a healthy number of carbs per serving in the finished product without compromising flavor.

All that being said, here is my chili recipe. A few things about it. First, those darned tomatoes! They are a fruit, you know, and so they contribute nearly half of the net carbs in the recipe.  If you want to trim 1.5 carbs per serving, cut them in half. That's the big hitter. Even the onions don't amount to much, and they add a spike of flavor. It's the tomatoes. Sigh . . .

Second, I have written about my views on black soybeans, so you might want to leave them out if you are going to make this often, but I will repeat what I said in my earlier post - a few soybeans are not as bad as a piece of pie. So make it an every now and then treat.

Last but not least, I watch Bobby Flay and Anne Burrell for inspiration frequently, which has made me cognizant of texture and flavor when I am developing a new recipe. So you will see a couple of ingredients in here that are a bit unusual - finely chopped celery for a little bite (and almost NO carbs!), and white wine vinegar, the zero carb kind, to brighten the flavor.  Thanks, Anne and Bobby.

Susan's Low Carb Chili

1 tbsp. olive oil
1/2 C. finely chopped celery
1/4 C. finely diced onions
1 tsp. toasted ground cumin
1 tbsp. chili powder
1 poblano pepper, seeded
1 lb. ground beef
15 oz. can black soy beans, well      rinsed, not turtle beans
Diced tomatoes,14 oz.
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 tbsp. white wine vinegar
       (no carb kind)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 C. roughly chopped cilantro
1-1/2 C. water

Finely chop the celery, onion and seeded pepper. Heat the olive oil in a heavy pan over medium high heat, then add the vegetables. Put in your chili powder and ground cumin. It improves the flavor of the spices if they are cooked prior to adding the crumbled ground beef to the pan. Once the spices have released their wonderful aroma and the onions are soft but not brown, add the ground beef. Keep the heat on medium high and stand over the burner until the hamburger is cooked almost through. Don't burn the vegetables while you are cooking the meat! Watch over the process. This is no time to check email.

Now add the rinsed soy beans (if using), tomatoes, tomato paste, cilantro, vinegar and salt. Stir to combine well. Add a cup and a half of water. Taste for seasoning. Now is the time to add salt if necessary. Bring to a low simmer, cover the pan and cook for a half hour to an hour, stirring occasionally. NOW you can check your email!

In the picture, there are a couple of garlic croutons on the edge of the bowl. They are very low carb, but that recipe is for later. You can top the chili with butter (which smooths out the tartness of the tomatoes) and sour cream or shredded cheese. Just remember to add in the carbs for the additions. All three are very low carb, but they need to be accounted for.

Revision to original nutritional data! (I'm still working on my model, found major error this morning!)

Nutritional info (with soy beans):

Carbs Fat Protein Calories
TOTALS 3.32 10.29 1.70 112.00
% of total calories 11.8% 82.2% 6.0% 100.0%
Calories from: 13.3 92.6 6.8 112.6

Bon Appetit!

Susan Siemers
From Devonshire House Low Carb Delights

Susan's Low Carb Chili

Monday, September 26, 2016

Greeting fall with mixed emotions

Fall is undeniably here.  The mosquitoes have already calmed down a bit, and soon they will be gone. This year was really miserable for those of us who don't like heat mixed with high, high humidity. I am one of them, and feeling cooler air today is welcome, even with the humidity. However . . .

There hasn't been a frost yet, nothing even close, but the plants are looking pretty sad. No amount of water or tender loving care will make up for the fact that summer annuals have a genetic life span, and it is nearing the end for many of them.

I love the zinnias at the front of my house. So cheerful! They are multi-colored, some tall, some medium, some short. They shaded the delicate shade-loving impatiens well enough that they are still looking quite nice. However, the zinnias, not so much.

Sad zinnias

Sadder zinnias

As for my tomato garden on the deck, they are done. I am just letting the last crop of tomatoes hang on the sad, brown plants in the hope that they will ripen before they rot. They are almost all Moldovan Green, my favorite tomato, so even though they look very un-ripe, they are not. I brought in two last night, one for supper with my wild salmon, the other one sitting on the counter for today's lunch with some cottage cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.

Sad tomatoes

Sadder tomatoes

A few of my mums made it through the winter, and I notice one is just full of buds. One of these days I will have to tell the ragged looking zinnias that they have served their purpose. I will blow them a kiss and then pull them out to make room for the mums to show off.

Mum budded out - it's having its day.

I planted several lavender plants against the foundation, bought from the booth that sells everything lavender at the market. The owners, Mike and Doreen King of Lakeside Lavender & Herbs, tell me that I need to trim them back this fall. They will be healthier next year if I do so. The smaller ones on the right are best for culinary uses, so they will get extra tender loving care.

Lavender against wall

Culinary lavender, smaller

Even the basil is sad - but this was a GOOD GOOD YEAR FOR BASIL.

There are several perennial herbs hidden among the zinnias that will be useful well into the winter - tarragon, oregano and thyme.

Oh, and I planted potatoes last spring. It's time to go on my potato search. Two organic potatoes yielded eight potato plants. Now if I can just find where to start digging!

Isn't it wonderful what one can do with foundation plantings?

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

The Wheel turns to Mabon - the Second Harvest!

On Friday, September 23, we will be celebrating Mabon – the Autumnal Equinox and Second Harvest on the St. Joe river in my yard in Mishawaka. I know it is a work day for many of you, so 5 pm might be a little early. Come when you can, and we will partake of a potluck supper whenever we reach critical mass.

Our ritual will include putting your veggie offering in the middle of the cast circle, then telling about your garden. Leave a cuke, pick up a potato, leave a melon, pick up a squash! If you don’t have garden produce to bring, recipes for using that garden bounty will be a wonderful addition to the giving table.

I have great mosquito repellent (no Deet, all essential oils and witch hazel), so plan on going down to the river to light a Mabon fire to top off the evening.  

We need new pictures! I don't have anything in my files beyond 2004. Wasn't that a great altar? Thanks to Leann Lawson for that. And we did have some magnificent fires out there!!!

Blessed Be.

Mabon altar at farm - 2004

Mabon fire at farm - 2004

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Fred has taught himself a trick . . .

Fred, a.k.a. Figgy Pudding, doesn't do tricks. Ayn Chee would play fetch with anything, and keep it up for hours! Couldn't get enough. She could also catch treats in mid-air. So can Tashi, although with her cataracts getting worse, she misses about as often as she catches them.

Fred doesn't do fetch. He doesn't catch food, much as he loves it, even when you toss it in the air towards his nose. When I leave the house, I always tell them it's time for their meatball doggy treats, because mom is leaving now. I hold Fred's right up to his mouth and he grabs it. Don't bother to toss it - he won't get it. Tashi's gets tossed to her even though I have to retrieve it from under a table or chair sometimes, and then hand it to her as well.

A couple of days ago, I gave Fred his treat, then tossed Tashi's to her - and then saw Fred throw his from his mouth several feet across the floor. I picked it up, got very close to him and tossed it. He got it.

Surely he didn't throw it across the floor so I would toss it to him the way I toss Tashi's to her. I forgot about it until this moning, when exactly the same thing happened! Fred wants me to toss him his treat, and lest I forget, he tosses it at my feet so that I will pick it up and throw it towards his nose.

Fred has learned a trick. Lo and behold, I think I am falling in love with that little guy.

Tashi and Fred

Monday, August 29, 2016

Where have I been?

I've been pretty busy for the last week, using all of my spare time to set up my new Surface Pro 4. No time for blogging.

I am trying to simplify my life. In the walkout basement, next to my soap room, is my "office," if you can call it that. I have an older computer with a tower, a BIG screen, a nice wireless keyboard and two printers. Yes, I do often need two printers. One prints double sided without having to raise a finger, the other is the backup workhorse when I have a huge pile of printing to do and limited time.

Then there is the laptop, that I really didn't use much until I discovered how handy it was at the market. Instead of going home with a list of questions posed by my customers, I now just walk over the the laptop and google things. I'm not proud. I explain to my customers what I am doing, as well as giving them some tips to get better information when they do it themselves. And then I discovered that if I put my business apps and data files on the laptop, they were always with me. On slow days at the market, I could catch up on entering information into my accounting software, and since the desktop is really nicer, I could go home and use it, but have it talk to the laptop to get to the data files.

I should have done it with Outlook as well, but I am so afraid of messing up the files. Lots of history in those old Outlook folders, and I can find all sorts of things in that program. However, I am prone to missing meetings, or being very late for them, because I haven't gotten down to the basement to open Outlook and get organized. So I use the internet to open emails at the market, and then have to send a copy of my responses to my Outlook account so I have a record of them when I get home to the desktop, and then there's my Droid - both email accounts are on it as well, and I'm confused - VERY confused!

I have been looking at the Microsoft Surface Pro, as it supposedly could take the place of a laptop. Could it work? Really? One machine, small enough that I could slip it in a handbag, with all of the stuff I have on the desktop and the laptop! I was pretty sure that the Pro 4 would hold all I needed to transfer to the new machine.

I bought one. I moved all of the data files from the laptop over, then started with the desktop files. I RAN OUT OF ROOM! Say what? There were a lot of duplicate files, which I have since taken care of, but I hauled it back to Best Buy with the intention of buying a bigger one, or else just getting another laptop, which would have a whole lot more storage space on it for the same money.

The first thing the salesman did was hit the "RESTART" buttons on side-by-side machines, one a super-fast laptop, the other a tablet (which is what Surface Pro is). The tablet - well, it's almost like turning on a light switch. Push the button, put your face in front of the camera (that's my password) and it's running. My middle name is Impatience, so I said, okay, I need to go one higher on the Surface machines. Oops! Got a thousand dollars to spare? No way!

Then he showed me this tiny little slot into which one can slide a SIM card - like you would put into your digital camera to get more storage. For only $59, it doubled my storage space, and now I have a D: drive, which I kind of like because I can separate the files from my laptop and the files from my desktop. It appeals to my neat and orderly mind.

Back home with the Surface Pro 4, insert the SIM card, and put everything from the desktop onto that tiny little card. In my desktop, I had installed a second hard drive, just for data - one drive for applications, one for data. See, I really do have a neat and orderly mind which I was very thankful for when I had a major crash. Well, sliding a SIM card into a slot was sure easier than taking the cover off a tower, screwdriver in hand! And I can buy more of them for storing archived MSMoney files and old pictures.

Getting Outlook loaded was a bit dicey and required a call to AT&T, but all is working well. I think I'm finally there! I know, I know, it took a whole week, and I am now going to have to put up with all of the Mac people saying how much easier it it with a Mac, but I saved about $2,500. Not bad for a few hours of work crammed into my spare time, and I learned a lot!

Here's a pic of my new little baby. And BTW, if I think I need that big monitor and the ergonomic keyboard, I can hook this up to them in a nanosecond and I'm ready to roll. I'm happy.

Surface Pro 4  Follow this link to see more of what she'll do.

Here she is!

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Mitch McConnell was down on the end of my block today.

Who knew?

I wonder what he was doing here in Mishawaka.

I managed to snap a few pictures before he got away. Of course, he is a little slow so he wasn't hard to catch up with. All that being said, he did stop for one nice head-on shot. Hoping Jon Stewart sees these pics. I'm sure he will enjoy them.

Way to go, Mitch!

Isn't he lovely?
The river is behind you Turn around!
Onward and upward

Go, Mitch!

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Daisy - she was a GREAT British cook!

Someone recently told me about The Great British Baking Show, and I just started watching. Enough with the politics. This is a delightful show, and it is bringing back many memories of my dear mother-in-law Daisy. She put the lie in "boring British cookery." She could cook!

I treasure a handwritten recipe she gave me for how to make treacle pudding. Although she called it "treacle" pudding, it was made with Tate and Lyles Golden Syrup. In the instructions, she wrote that she had David (my husband at the time) hold the string while she tied down the waxed paper that was part of steaming the pudding. Steaming pudding? Had they not heard of Jell-O? Maybe I will share her recipe with you in a future post. Today, I just want to do a shout out for British Grub, also the name of a cookbook she gave me.

When I became part of Dave's family, I learned to understand English without asking Dave to interpret for me when we were alone. I learned to love a woman who loved her son fiercely and eventually took me in, once I had met her approval. I learned to make a proper cup of tea. Daisy said that the Americans couldn't make tea, and the British couldn't make coffee. Agreed. I learned to do both - coffee from my German mother, and tea from my British mother-in-law.

She made tea every morning for Dave's dad, and he rang a bell to let her know when he was awake. She then carried his cuppa into the bedroom and served him his morning tea. She told me she would get me a bell for David. I told Dave if he tried that routine with me, he would be wearing that bell where the sun don't shine!

Our Christmas dinner went from turkey or ham to roast beef with Yorkshire pudding. It was a nice transition. I miss those dinners. Perhaps I will have a proper British dinner for a few friends this year on Christmas Day. I spend my Christmas days alone, since my family does Christmas Eve, and it is crown roast of pork at my son's house. But I do have fond memories of roast beef and Yorkshire pudding, finished with treacle pudding drizzled with Bird's custard for dessert, along with hot tea.

What is it with the British and their puddings? "Two great nations divided by a common language." (Attributed to both George Bernard Shaw and Oscar Wilde.) Treacle pudding made by steaming, and Yorkshire pudding made in hot beef drippings.  Oh, that Yorkshire pudding, I remember watching it puff up in the oven, browning here and there on the top. It was then cut up and served on the side of the roast beef slices, with good, dark rich gravy over all. Oh, and oven roasted potatoes. She taught me well. I'm sure my grasp of British cooking helped us get over a rough start. But we did, and I cherish the memories of her. She treated my children as her own grandchildren, and they both have fond memories of her.

Daisy also taught me to make a proper English breakfast - with fried bread (in butter, my friends, not lard or bacon fat), sunny side up eggs, and very thick bacon. The other breakfast I often made was her recipe for English crepes. Nothing fancy, but oh, so good. Very thin crepes, hot from the pan, with fresh lemon squeezed over them, then sprinkled with sugar and rolled up. Three to a plate, and garnished with a lemon wedge. And a cup of hot tea made right.

Okay, one full recipe here.

How to make a good cup of tea. 

First pour boiling water in the pot to heat it, swish it around and dump it out. Bring more water to the boil, then turn off. Then throw black tea leaves into the bottom of the pot (I happen to favor Ceylon), use about a heaping teaspoon of tea per cup, then pour the water (not boiling, but still very hot) into the pot. Pop on the tea cozy. If you don't have one, then covering the pot with a heavy dish towel will work fine. Let it sit until you see that the tea leaves have sunk to the bottom of the pot. Then oh so carefully, so you don't disturb the leaves in the bottom, pour into cups that you have also rinsed with hot water. Add lemon or milk depending on your taste, and sugar if you must. There may be a few tea leaves in the cup. But how are you to read your tea leaves to learn your fate if you don't have a few leaves in the bottom?

Reading tea leaves

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Rhianna - where oh where did you go?

I got a Roomba 780, named her Rhianna, and happily used her for nearly a month, and just three days before my 30 day return with no questions asked period, she went brain dead.

Oh, how I missed her! But while I waited for my refund (yes,Amazon gave me back every penny, and paid for the return shipping), I did quite a bit of research.

I had a Roomba for years, but she really got to be too expensive to keep going, and I finally sent her to the heap. The 780 was much nicer, bigger bin, could run longer between charges. However, cleaning her up was just as big a pain as it was on my old 500 series. I have the world's hairiest dog, and even with the special tools that came with the newer model, it took a looooooooooooong time to remove hair from dust bin, both rollers, bearing housings and wheels.

I did a lot of research before replacing her, and Monday my new Rhianna, the 880 model arrived. I ran her for the first time yesterday, and I am very pleased. There are no brushes, and I was leery of how well she would take up the dog hairs. She did. No brush to clean. Okay, the jury is still out, but as of today, I am very happy with this newer model. I just came home from a forty-five minute trip to pick up my Mantis roto-tiller (that's another story for another day), and she had cleaned the whole living room floor and was safely back in her docking station.

Looks like perhaps Rhianna II and I are going to become new best friends.

Rhianna II

Low Carb Black Bean Salad

You will see me referring to "net carbs" and "dietary fiber" in this and other blogs. How do you get net carbs? Start with the total carb count, and then look for an entry that reads "Dietary Fiber." If there is no entry for dietary fiber, then you have to count all of the carbs listed.  If there are dietary fiber grams listed, subtract them from the carb count. Voila! You have the net carbs count. That means if you want to eat something that has a lot of carbs, what might have looked like it was out of bounds can be okay once you have backed out the total dietary fiber grams.

Black soybeans are a good example. I discovered that black soybeans can be used just like turtle beans. This means that my chili is no longer without beans. And best of all, I can make my favorite black bean salad, which I thought was gone from my diet forever.

Now some might argue that we shouldn't eat ANY kind of soybeans. Pardon if I digress, but there are some legitimate arguments against soybeans. They contain phyto-estrogens, so some doctors encourage their patients who are dealing with breast, unterine and ovarian cancers to cut out soybean products, including soy milk and tofu, since estrogen can aggravate cancer of reproductive organs. And what about baby formula? If a baby gets virtually 100% of its diet from soy formula, it is getting the equivalent of five birth control pills every day. That just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Soybeans are also high in phytic acid. Why should you care? Because phytic acid binds to minerals such as calcium, magnesium, copper, zinc and iron. What that means is that it acts like a little vacuum cleaner and sweeps them out of your system. We really ought to hang onto them, don't you think? However, if you don't eat black soybeans every day, if you save them for a now-and-then treat, if you add just a few to a pot of chili so that you discover a bean or two in every spoonful, then I think they are okay. And so far as I am concerned, they are certainly better for us than a piece of pie.

Many people think that dry beans must be low carb. Au contraire. They are loaded! One cup of black turtle beans will set you back 116 carbs. (If you read my blog very often, by now you probably know the magic number for low carbers is 50 grams of carbs - or less! - per day.) You do get to deduct the 29 grams of dietary fiber to get to net carbs, but that is still 87 net carbs, or one full day's carbs plus three fourths of the next. And that's without adding some onions and cilantro to the dish. On the other hand, there are 16 grams of carbs in a cup of black soybeans, and 14 grams of dietary fiber, for a net carb count of only 2 grams. That leaves some room for a few veggies in the salad. And a couple of deviled eggs.

Here is my recipe for Black Bean Salad. If you are in the "hate" column for cilantro (there are only lovers and haters of cilantro, in my experience, no in-between), use parsley. You can use another cheese, so long as you choose one that holds its shape pretty well when the dressing is poured over.


2 cans (15 oz. each) Edens Organic Black Soybeans (do not substitute other types of black beans - see intro to this recipe)
4 oz. feta cheese, crumbled or cut into 1/4" dice
1/2 C. finely chopped celery
1/4 C. finely diced red onions
1/2 C. roughly chopped cilantro (I'm in the "love" column - see intro)
Juice from one juicy large lime, or two not so great limes (3 to 4 tbsp.)
2 tbsp. good, fruity olive oil
8 to 10 sliced green pimento olives
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Rinse the beans well and drain thoroughly. Throw them and all of the other ingredients in a big bowl, stir to combine, and let sit on the counter for about an hour to blend flavors. Give it another stir every now and then if you are so inclined. Then refrigerate until ready to eat.

Makes 10 half cup servings as a side dish, or 5 one cup servings as a main course. (Double the macronutrient values if using as a main course.)

Carbs Fat Protein Calories
TOTALS 2.27 9.27 9.41 141.09
% of total 10.8% 44.3% 44.9%

Ingredients at the ready

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Today we celebrate Lughnasadh and feats of strength ...

There are eight holidays on the Pagan Wheel of the Year. And today we celebrate Lughnasadh, also known as Lammas. It is a celebration of the first harvest. Wheat was the harvest that was highlighted in days of old, and that meant bread and beer! Hurrah!!

Lughnasadh is the only celebration on the Wheel of the Year that hasn't been usurped by the Christian church and other religions. However, after doing a little research, I did found churches in the early 20th century did in fact have celebrations associated with this day. It is considered a "cross-quarter day," one that falls halfway between a solstice and an equinox. Lughnasadh is halfway between the Summer Solstice and the Autumnal Equinox. Hard to believe, isn't it? Soon we will be at that balancing point, after which fall, early sunsets and then winter are upon us. Wherever does the time go?

So what were the Christians doing with this holiday in the early 1900's? Well, they did a couple of things, one being to climb a hill (notice they didn't say mountain, but I suppose if you had one handy, that would count). The other was to have contests displaying feats of strength. And there was always water involved in the festivities. So who could carry the heaviest pail of water up the hill? Sounds like a plan to me!

We're all set this afternoon. The river provides the water, there is a hill between the river bank and my house, and I'm going to get out my free weights for some feats of strength for the kids.

Well, I have to get back to work. I'm just finishing a lovely pork roast and hoping that someone will bring some buns (bread being so appropriate today). There is always a lovely spread here. We do love to cook - and to eat!

Happy Lughnasadh to you and yours. May life give you many harvests.

Blessed Be.

Happy harvest!