Wednesday, June 29, 2016


I took Tashi to the vet for her annual physical. She is in pretty good health, considering that she is coming off a bad bout of SIBO. It took her weight from 63 to 44. Yup, she was too fat, but this is not the way to lose weight! It has been a real struggle to get her weight back up to 48.4 pounds.

SIBO is short for Small Intestinal Bacterial Overgrowth. In Tashi's case, the only sign of it was weight loss. She didn't vomit, didn't have diarrhea, seemed to be eating normally. What was happening was that an overgrown colony of bacteria was literally taking the nourishment from her food, and she was starving. When I went for the third time to vet, I insisted on seeing the head vet at the clinic. He was alarmed. His first guess was right, and we started treatment for SIBO immediately. But every time she started to put on weight, another trauma reared its ugly head. I went on vacation, and my house sitter, who was well paid to stay in my house, night AND DAY, admitted he left her alone all day every day, while he went to his sister's. She needed to be coaxed to eat, and he knew that, yet he left her alone. She lost all of the weight she had gained.

Tashi finally put back on a few pounds. Then we lost Ayn Chee. She decided not to eat. I could maybe get a little down her off a spoon, but she lost three pounds in the week after Ayn Chee died.

In came Fred, aka Figgy Pudding (click on the link to hear that whole story), the only dog I could find that she would accept. She was happy again, and grudgingly started to eat better. But it was still a struggle, and it was becoming obvious that she hates dog food.

I am now making her food from scratch, ground turkey, ground beef, sweet potatoes, rice, chicken gizzards, livers and hearts. My new vet here in Mishawaka gave me some minerals to add to it, and she is on an enzyme now as well. And a B-12 shot once a month.

In addition to SIBO, she has had a lot of trauma. She HATED leaving the farm. She never liked getting in the car, but after we moved up here, she jumped in with no hesitation. I think she was hoping we were going back to the farm. Poor thing! And as I said, losing Ayn Chee affected her deeply. I credit Fred with saving her life.

Her blood tests came back just fine, so that means it will be okay to get her teeth cleaned. She is going to be like new. Last night, for the first time since all of this started, she cleaned her bowl and begged for more. It's a miracle!! Love you, Tashi. :)

Tashi at gate to chicken run on her beloved farm

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

My new housekeeper, Rhianna

Rhianna has joined our household. She is a Model 780 Roomba, and we are new best friends.

I bought a Roomba when they first came on to the market, and I liked it. However, it required a lot of care, and I was often buying parts for it. I can't remember what I named her, but she worked hard for me. I brought her here to the river house and bought some parts, got her working, but not for long. High maintenance chick!

A couple of months ago, I finally threw her away, including the box of spare parts. (That may have been a mistake.)

Damn these ads that pop up when you play solitaire on your smart phone! There was a new Roomba model, square, sleek, bright red. I repeatedly ignored it, but finally bit and clicked on the link. I didn't buy her though. After doing some research, I went back to the updated model of the one I had. This one has a bigger dust bin, special brushes for pet hair, and is programmable, leading me to dream that she will clean all of my floors while I sleep at night. With two dogs, a cat (rarely home lately), and two VERY MESSY parakeets, I vacuum frequently, and it's not my favorite job. And now, of course, I wish I had kept the spare parts. Sigh . . .

She is learning the patterns in my rooms. And I am learning that I have to help a little! She knocked over a potted plant, she got stuck under the stove (bin was full already and I had to haul her out and empty it before she would continue), and Fred, the Figgy Pudding, is barking at her continuously!

But it's fun, and frankly she is doing a better job than the old model did. And a better one than I do. Bin full already? Could it be that I don't bother with vacuuming under my stove and sofa? If I can't see it, it's not there! But Rhianna knows, and she is a thorough little cleaner.

Oh, wow! I just glanced in the living room, and she has completely cleaned up the mess from the overturned plant. She is definitely a new and IMPROVED model. :)

Well, I'm going to go down to the soap room and make a batch of Lemon Skin Renew while she finishes my floors. Love it!

Rhianna coming back out from under sofa

Rhianna going under the dining room table

Oh, Rhianna, I love you!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Blog in three parts

Chapter 1:

I get so inspired watching Bobby Flay cook. Just finished pouring vinegar and spices over some thinly sliced shallot. Low carb bread just came out of the oven. I have some deli meat and cheese in the fridge. Off to church in a bit, then lunch on the deck. Nicely filled low carb bun, Swiss cheese and corned beef topped with pickled shallots, a goodly spread of real mayo on the bun. I may stop at the grocery store for cabbage and poblano peppers so I can have some slaw on the side.

Low carb buns - only 2 g carbs each, and taste pretty good!

Chapter 2:

The actions -- stopped at Martin's for cabbage and poblanos on my way home from church. No poblanos! How dare they? So another stop. Meijers on the by-pass has really good produce, and it was only a few blocks out of my way. Found them. Now I'm making my slaw. I may not eat on the deck - it's been raining on and off, and it's pretty steamy out there. We will see when it is time to eat.

Pickled shallots

Chapter 3:

Now to sit down and eat. I'm really hungry! By the time I was done with church, shopping in two different stores and then coming home and making everything, it was 2:00 pm before I sat down to eat. But it was worth the wait!

The finished product

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Cruising down the river - Part 2

Elena, Catherine and I spent some quality time on the river last week. It is such a joy. We followed our usual route - paddling upriver to the dam, checking out the osprey nest, looking for turtles and birds, and then drifting downriver back to my place. Lovely day!

This post has a lot of pictures so that you can share the journey. Enjoy.

Blue heron

Blue heron - I'm pretty happy with this pic!

Blue heron preening for the camera

Bridge on Capital

Bridge with spun sugar clouds overhead


Neighbor's frontage

Farmer Susie


Susie''s feet

Found only one turtle

Osprey nest is empty now

Next year, they will be back!

On the shore - Catherine

Getting ready to head out - Elena and Catherine

My mighty fishing kayak

Peace and calm

Spun sugar clouds

Fairy steps going off the river into the woods

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Deck is done, rain gage installed

Yesterday I bought a rain gage. On the farm, it was a big deal. Not so much here, even with the river going over its banks every now and then.

My objective this year (it's about time!) is to get the outside of the place done - finish up some structural things on exterior of house and clean up the yard and gardens. My deck is finally done, table moved back on, cooker cleaned up, tomatoes planted in pots. It's coming along!

We had quite a storm the other day, rain coming down in sheets against the windows. I realized I had no idea how much rain I had gotten when the storm was over. On the farm I kept copious records of rain, every rainfall recorded over nearly ten years. I kept a running total to record percentage difference in rainfall from year to year.

It was time to buy a rain gage! After finding an appropriate spot and searching all over for my drill so I could install it, I was ready for last night's rainfall. I got 1-5/8" here yesterday. And it is duly recorded in the new rain record sheet titled "Rainfall - Mishawaka."

I also invested in a new hedge trimmer, with a lithium battery. (I have cut through my last extension cord!) So yesterday the bushes were finally trimmed, and the front of the house looks much neater. I'll work on the yard down towards the river when the rain finally quits.  Lots of stuff around here needs a haircut!

Here are some pics of what is going on around here right now. The last pic shows my favorite tomatoes, Moldovan Green. They are grown from seeds from the farm. :)

Rain gage is on rail to left of lounge.
Bushes trimmed on front of house
Cooker is ready to go!

Table is back in service

Moldovan Green tomatoes - a little behind, but I'll have tomatoes soon!

Friday, June 17, 2016

What is Litha? What is Midsummer and why is it at the BEGINNING of summer?

This Sunday, we will celebrate Litha here at my place on the river. It is the celebration of summer, the longest day of the year. The rule of the Sun God is handed off to the Holly King on Monday, and we will celebrate the Sun's last hurrah Sunday evening.

So why is it not only called Litha, but also Midsummer, when it is only the first day of summer? Pagans of old considered summer to start with Beltane, May 1, when you planted your gardens and fields, and just a couple months later, the first harvest is upon us on Lughnasadh, August 1. Voila! Litha, on or about June 21 each year, was the middle of the summer by their accounting. I'll go with it.

The focus in any Litha ritual is on celebrating the power of the sun. Our ritual will include harnessing that power in an amulet to keep with us as the Sun wanes throughout the rest of the year, until Yule, when the Holly King bids us a fond adieu and the Sun God returns.

Christina and Bill have put together a beautiful and kid friendly ritual, which will take place on the river at my house on Sunday. We will start with a potluck at 4:00 pm, then proceed to the river for the ritual. The fire is already laid, and it will be quite grand! We will conclude the evening with marshmallows, of course! It's a kid friendly night from start to finish. Big kids, too! (Bring your fishing poles if you like. No license? I can get one for you on line. Seniors fish for free.)

My address and phone can be had by messaging me on Facebook. If you found this blog through Facebook, you already know how to reach me. If you didn't, then you can always get more information through comments to this page.

Summer Solstice at Stonehenge

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

My mom kept this poster inside a cupboard to make sure we were well fed.

A couple of years ago, with the advent of the "plate," which replaced the "food pyramid," I went on a search for the food wheel that my mom kept taped up on the inside of a cupboard door. I knew it made a lot more sense than either the plate or the pyramid, but I couldn't find it anywhere. I searched for hours. Now that I am a low carber and a strong believer in the premise that we created a myriad of health problems when we went to a low fat diet, I wanted to see that wheel again. I knew fat got high priority on the wheel, but the pyramid gave carbohydrates the whole base, and fat was just a little bit at the tip of the pyramid.

I had hoped by the time they replaced the (terrible!) pyramid with the plate, it would be better balanced, but again, the butter got put on a dessert plate off to the side. What? Do the people who create these things do any research? Low fat diets are not healthy for a variety of reasons, not for anybody. But they are especially bad for people with insulin resistance, or diseases that are spawned from it such as Type 2 diabetes, arthritis and heart trouble. Then add neurological disorders like bi-polar disorder, autism, epilepsy and clinical depression that are exacerbated by carbyhydrates. I hope you get my point and are going to start googling to check me out.

So what happened today? Lo and behold, I found "The Wheel" in an article in the Washington Post about the dangers of eating fast food. Once I knew exactly what it was called, and that it was produced by the USDA, it was easy to find it.  Here it is.

I'm almost certain this is exactly what my mom kept posted in her kitchen.
Notice on this wheel that nothing was denigrated, especially not fat, dairy and meat. The only thing I stay away from on this wheel are the bread, flour and cereals, but that is my issue. Most people can tolerate them better than I can. Oh, do notice that there is no section for SUGAR!

I remember my mom checking that chart, and we truly were well fed. No desserts. There were six of us, so that meant six birthday cakes (or maybe only five, as I never remember one for Mom) each year. Dessert for us was a bowl of fruit, in the winter maybe some home canned peaches, or even store bought. I know, a lot of sugar, but it was never the highlight of the meal and often it was just skipped.

You can read the Washington Post article here, but while it is interesting, it isn't really what this post is about.  Good info, but I'm just so happy I found "The Wheel."

Thank you, Mom.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Now for the easy part

Last night I worked the butter into my brioche dough, probably the hardest and most time consuming part of baking for Saturday market. Next week I'll get a picture of that. But for now, I just want to record the easy part.

Brioche feuilleté was formed and baked first, then the other half of the dough was formed into a log, spread with butter, and then sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Half was topped with raisins, the other half with raisins and walnuts, then cut and put into the pan for a slow rise. They will be popped into the oven as soon as the bread as done. I turn the oven down for the rolls, but that first pop of really hot air after the bread comes out will give the outside of the rolls a great exterior, with a soft and buttery interior.

Well, back to the stove. Here are the pics of the work in progress - the easy part, really. Just heat the oven and start baking!

The workhorse - my Kenwood mixer, same brand Chef Berard used in Provence.

First batch out of the oven
Baguettes under wraps for final rise

Flaky cinnamon rolls about to go in oven

Mise en Place for my first try at making Fougette

Baguette dough weighed, first formation for six loaves

Thursday, June 9, 2016

The deck

My deck is getting stained, as one of the last projects for spring/summer of 2016. We've run into a couple of snags. The contractor told me to buy the best stain, don't try to save a few bucks. In retrospect, I should have asked him specifically what brand to buy.

I got the best that Menard's carries, and I got semi-transparent, per his instructions. It was a mistake. His employee, who applied it, complained about it, said it dried so fast that he couldn't get rid of drip marks, and anywhere there was an overlap, it was horrid. I complained when I saw what it looked like. He said all he could do was re-apply a coat to the floor. That would make it opaque, no wood grain showing through. I said no. So he said I would have to live with the drip marks on the vertical surfaces and spots of overlap on the flooring until natural weathering took care of it.

I am often quick to make decisions. In this case, I said, "Halt! I need to do some research." I'm glad I did. I called my contractor, Joe, and told him he needed to come out and take a look, that I wasn't very happy with the project.

I also went to a first rate paint store and picked the guy's brain there, showing him pics. He did say the application wasn't exactly A+, but agreed that the brand I bought wasn't the best for getting even application.

Joe was at the house when I got back from the paint store and agreed with me that it wasn't pretty. Joe, being the honest and good contractor I know him to be, said he would take care of it. He was back in an hour with a power washer and two gallons of stain remover. Four hours later, the deck was back to its starting point. I went to the paint store to buy the recommended product. Joe will be helping with the application of the stain on Saturday. There is a process called "keeping a wet edge" that I learned about during this exercise - not exactly something I was searching for, but now I know. This is how you prevent those horrid overlap areas, no matter how fast the stain dries.

Here are a few pics of the project, which is a work still in progress. I will publish another blog once the deck is done to my liking. Hopefully that will be soon!

Look at drip marks on railing.

Ugh! And UGLY!

Very uneven.

Deck washed down, stain removed, ready to start over!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

What's new? Green curry with chicken, that's what's new!

I have spent the last few days working on a new recipe. My focus is high flavor and low carb. Since low carb recipes are always high in fat, it's pretty easy to get flavor into them, but they can get a bit humdrum, even when loaded with butter. This one incorporates strong flavors along with what I thought was really good mouth feel from the coconut milk.

Here is my first stab at cranking up the flavor so that you love every bite. But it's a good idea to stay away from stuff that tastes so good that you can't quit eating it.  Mission accomplished. This one will make your tummy AND your brain satisfied with this meal. You can add some low carb cauliflower "rice" to it if you want, but with the vegetables in the curry, I was quite satisfied with just the curry.

If you try this one, please let me know what you think. Your feedback is important!



For broth and poached chicken:
·         2 large whole chicken breasts, ribs and bones attached (about two pounds)
·         Enough water to come to top of the chicken breasts in the stock pot
·         Bay leaf, 1 or 2 depending on size
·         Small bunch of fresh lemon thyme (or English thyme, whatever you have in your herb garden)
·         A small sprig of fresh rosemary (only ¼ tsp. if using dried)
·         1 tsp. whole black peppercorns
·         1 ½ tsp. sea salt
·         ¼ tsp. kefta or ras al hanout if you have it – adds a little depth of flavor

Put whole chicken breasts in a heavy stock pot with bay leaf, lemon thyme, rosemary, salt, peppercorns and kefta or ras al hanout if using. Add water to top of chicken breasts. Bring just to the boil, then immediately turn down to very slow simmer.  Poach until tender, about 35 minutes. Don’t overcook, as chicken will have time to cook a bit more when finishing the dish. Remove chicken from broth, strain the broth into a quart glass jar, and keep chicken and broth in fridge until ready to use. Cook down the broth to strengthen it, about a quart when finished. May be done ahead to have on hand for this recipe and others.

For curry:

1 tablespoon virgin coconut or canola oil
3 tbsp. green curry paste
1 ½ teaspoons freshly grated ginger
½ teaspoon finely grated lime zest
½ medium onion, sliced into ¼” wide half rounds
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ head cabbage, cut into 3/4” wide strips
3 C. chicken broth from the poached chicken
1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
¼ cup basil leaves roughly chopped, plus a few more for garnish
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
Lime wedges for garnish and to squeeze over finished dish


Heat oil in heavy stock pot over medium heat. Cook curry paste, ginger, and lime zest, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Add onion and salt and cook, stirring, until onion is soft, about 3 minutes. Add cabbage strips and continue cooking just until they begin to soften, two to three minutes. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer until cabbage is crisp-tender, about 3 minutes. Discard skin and bone from chicken breasts and slice across the grain into slices ¼”. Cut the chicken slices into bite size pieces, about 1 ½” x 2” rectangles. Add chicken and coconut milk to pot and cook over medium, being careful not to boil, until warmed through, about 5 minutes. (If chicken was not thoroughly cooked during poaching, increase the heating time by a few minutes, until you are sure it is done, being careful not to overcook or it will be stringy and tough.) Stir in basil and lime juice. Garnish with fresh cilantro and lime wedges for an extra jolt of taste.

High Flavor Low Carb Cooking by Susan Siemers, June 1, 2016

Monday, June 6, 2016

My potatoes are up! More pics of foundation plantings.

A picture is worth a thousand words. Running late this morning, but haven't posted for a couple of days. My garden blogs seem to be the most popular, so here are more pics of what is happening with the plantings in front of house. I just love the leaves on newly emerging potato plants! Enjoy.

Anybody want a chunk of oregano plant? It has to be cut back! Let me know, and I can bring to market for you to pick up.

Potato plants have emerged!

Future project - what a mess!
My friend Bob made this name plate for me. Note oregano gone wild!

Rhubarb is coming along.

Tarragon - yum! Can already taste it with chicken.

My beloved yarrow. :)
Injured lavender plant
Another casualty - this WAS a small rosemary tree that got stomped on.