Saturday, November 29, 2008

It's all a blur....

I know, I know.....the yellow leaves of the last post have long dropped off and blown away and we are nearly dipping our frosty toes into December days. The last few weeks have been a blur of big activity around here. I have no other excuse other than to admit that my creative focus has been bound in production to fill holiday demand and scheduling out classes for all of 2009. I am thankful that I have big orders to fill and that demand for classes continues to grow. Oh so thankful.The sense of urgency that comes naturally with the changing seasons from fall to hunkered-down winter is layered with holiday cooking, days "off" in the middle of the week, unexpected visits and a break with the normal rhythm of my days. Wrapping up another year of classes collides with a weekend of driving to bring the wayward Iceman from the North for a quick week at home. All the while, there's mulling over important travel details with darling daughter as she orders cute bathing suits and prepares to maneuver through three airports to arrive on a sunny summer Australian beach a few days before Christmas. The blurry image above is my first published attempt with my new camera after attending the class to understand it's workings. I was practicing my"action panning shot without a flash"...a challenge even to those with more experience than I. Anyway, it does artfully depict the crazy scene around here, so I chose to post it. Fast, challenging and a bit of a blur!! Over the years, I have learned to adapt to the balance required with operating a home-centered business. It takes alot of juggling, compromise and multi-tasking skills. But sometimes it's just worth getting up in the dark hours before the rest of the world to get a few things done, think uninterrupted thoughts and feel that elusive creative spark that comes with quiet rewarding work. It makes it that much easier to later share an hour cuddled up with a kid who has a story to tell, a neighbor who needs a helping hand or to follow a cooking muse in the middle of the day. The days can be mighty long sometimes but the rewards are worthwhile. It's the best of all worlds and I can never say that I lead a boring, unfulfilled life !! And that, my friends, is a nice goal to shoot for.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Living and Breathing Yellow



Long lost sunshine returns and breathes a little more life into fading yellow leaves.
And this, for my beautiful daughter who counts the days until she meets her destiny with a visa to Australia..... fly, my Love, fly


"Yellow" by Coldplay Live in Sydney, Australia

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Food as Medicine or A Chicken in Every Pot

We haven't seen the sun in more than a week...I can't even remember when. It's dark, damp and even though it's been relatively warm in temperature, there is a definite chill in the air that makes me crave warm soup. I like to make stock at least once a week to use as a base for any soup or grain dish. Having frozen chicken stock in the freezer is one of the ways I prepare for the winter months. It's one of the 'medicines' that I prepare for the family to keep us healthy. I have to admit that I actually love the 'food as medicine' philosophy. I love the idea of 'value added' cooking. I love the idea of prevention and keeping the body terrain balanced and well tended. In China, the rural barefoot doctor is paid well to keep the people strong and healthy. When someone actually falls ill, the doctor attends to them, but does not get paid because it is believed he didn't do his job well to begin with. Moral of this story: Prevention is worth it's weight in gold! Anyway, back to the chicken stock. Chicken stock = Gold. Lots of research has finally proven that our grandma's somehow knew what they were talking about when it came to cooking up hot bowls of chicken soup for sick family members. Chicken releases an amino acid called cystiene when simmered in water. Cysteine keeps mucus thin and free flowing in the membranes. It is also an anti-inflammatory. Cysteine is chemically similiar to the drug acetylcysteine that docs prescribe to patients with persistent bronchitis. Did you know that dry, inflamed mucus membranes are the most perfect breeding ground for viruses? Where bacteria prefers moist breeding ground, viruses thrive in dry terrain. Many pulmonary specialists agree that plain old chicken soup will break up congestion and keep it moving. Some even believe that it contains enzymes that enhance immune function. Add to that loads of onions and garlic and you introduce beneficial allicin (a sulphur compound) that inhibits secondary bacterial infections. Below you'll find a very basic recipe. In the next post I'll describe all the little EXTRAS that I add to my chicken stock to enhance the kick, the flavor and the 'food as medicine' added-value. Stay tuned, k?

One good sized organic chicken (3-4 lbs)

4 quarts of cold water

2 tablespoons of vinegar

2 onions coarsely chopped

2 carrots coarsely chopped

3 celery stalks coarsely chopped

1 bunch of parsley

First, roast chicken at 375 for 1 ½ hours until skin is brown and crispy. When finished, remove meat and set aside. Put bones, skin and vegetables in a stock pot and cover with the cold water. Bring slowly to a boil. Adding vinegar extracts the calcium from the bones and makes your broth mineral-rich. As the water begins to boil, remove any scum that floats to the surface. Reduce heat and simmer for a few hours. The longer the broth simmers the richer and more flavorful it will be. About 15 minutes before taking the pot off the heat, add the parsley. Then strain the stock into a large bowl. Season stock with sea salt and pepper. When the broth has cooled down, place in the refrigerator overnight. The fat will rise to the top so that you can remove it easily the next day. At this point, your stock is ready to transform into a healing soup or to freeze for later use.

oh, about the chicken....in case you're wondering...no, we don't eat our own.
They are here to provide us with eggs (sometimes), to dig in the garden beds and to provide a reason to continually clean off the porch and patio. sigh...maybe I need to rethink this idea.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

As American as Schnitz Pie

Schnitz= dried apples ( in the Deitsch) Truth be told, with an abundance of fresh picked apples on the porch, I decided to make two schnitz pies. I found the tail end of a big box from last winter and immediately began to salivate. Unless I can find a crisp juicy Winesap or Macoun apple in October, I often prefer the tart chewy texture of dried apples the rest of the year. These were indeed...very dry. But no worries. I sprinkled them with a cup of apple cider and warmed them up on the wood stove until they got nice and plump. Then I gave them a generous sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg and added a chunk of butter. No added sugar needed. Dumped it all in a pie shell with a little splash of cider and baked for about 45 minutes at 350 degrees. Serve a slice warm with milk poured over. Mmmmm

Monday, November 3, 2008

Incense Making Kit for You!!

To commemorate the wonderful incense making class on Saturday, yours truly went hunting and gathering a fine variety of yummy botanical supplies to incorporate into our cones ((never really a problem, that kinda shopping)) I'd like to share the wealth of my discoveries by offering a limited number of Incense Making Kits to my blog readers so that they can experience the pleasure of creating their own incense for personal use or holiday gift giving. Each of the following ingredients has been weighed into one ounce packages to mix and match to create a nice variety of incense 'flavors'. The Kit will provide you with everything you need to make a number of batches. You just supply an electric coffee grinder, mortar and pestle or hammer and paper bag, your choice. You'll need one of these tools to grind up the resinous pieces of sweet myrrh, copal and dragon's blood (see photo). The Incense Making Kit sells for $25 plus shipping. You'll also need Tina's tiny book (see post below) for the very best concise directions.
The Kit contains one ounce packages of each of the following:
~Red Sandalwood Powder-use this neutral wood powder as your base and add more fragrant herbs and /or resins to this
~Frankincense Powder-centering oneself for meditation, and for purification of self or space
~Orris Root Powder (This will 'fix' the scent and keep it from escaping from the finished incense)
~Patchouli Powder- good 'earthiness' and grounding energy
~Dragon's Blood Resin-calming, dispersing negative energy,strongly antiseptic (good for sick rooms)
~Copal Resin- purification
~Sweet Myrrh (Opopanax) Resin-good for centering and meditation
~Saltpetre (This is the spark necessary to keep it burning well)
~Tragacanth Gum (This is the 'glue' that holds it all together)

Making Your Own Incense...



I neglected to mention that Tina and Maryanne put together a great little book that describes how to make your own...It's pricey though.

$3.95

You can get it here

By the way, I am cooking up a starter kit for everything else you need. Stay tuned!!

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Smokin' Great Day on the Farm

Yesterday brought the long anticipated "Incense and Herbal Bead" Love -In with Twisted Sisters: Essential Herbal Queen Tina Sams and her talented jewelery-making sister Maryanne Schwartz of Torch Song Studio. With all that laughter, patchouli and rose petal dust settling down around us and Crosby Stills Nash and Young's De' ja Vu playing as background, how could we possibly go wrong? We were blessed with attendance of many friends from near and far. Most notably, a hippie love bus meandering it's way down to the low country from the Bronx, with dear internet friend Rosanne "Roe" Tartaro (SunRose Aromatics) at the wheel and Johanna and 'Hippie Fairy Lover' Kathi in tow. So special to finally meet them all! Here are some snapshots of the day....it was a gas, gas, gas! Peace, Love and Herbs, Dear Readers. These are the days that will change the world, one fragrant step at a time...
Tina, trying to beat me to the blog punch...yeah, she won.

All creatures great and small were diggin' the vibe in the kitchen...lemon verbena loving lap cat and shaggy chickens snooping by the back door.

Grinding the Dragon's Blood resin (Sanguis draconis)

My patchouli cone 'soldiers' are drying very nicely!!

Rose petal beads above- lemon verbena beads and virginia creeper berries below
Roe: "pssst, might I interest you in some of my special vintage patchouli oil stash, Tina?"
Tina: "Smile for the blog, Roe"

Only the Lonely Crumbs

Once, just once, I'd like to get a photo of this scrumptious skillet of brownies before they are devoured by the masses. Alas, this tiny piece is all that remains. They are such a popular potluck dessert here at Farm at Coventry events that our dear Mary knows she has a standing request for them whenever it's possible for her to bring them! I was asked to puh-lease post the recipe for them on my blog. So here 'tis...
*Note: the brownie in this photo disappeared immediately after the photo was taken....

Mary’s Gluten Free Cake Brownies

Dry Ingredients:

¼ c. pure cocoa powder

1 c. natural sugar

½ t. salt (Mary uses Himalayan)

½ c. tapioca flour

½ c. potato starch

1 t. xanthan gum

1 t. baking soda

½ c. plain walnuts, chopped

Wet Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter

1/2 cup or less almond milk, milk, or similar beverage

4 eggs

1 t. vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease bottom of 9” cast iron skillet, leaving sides ungreased which allows batter to climb. Mix butter and cocoa in bowl over hot water, as in a double boiler. Mix dry ingredients. Add to chocolate. Blend wet ingredients and add to batter. Add nuts. Bake for 25 minutes or test with toothpick for desired doneness. Cool before cutting.

Icing

Heat one Endangered Species chocolate bar (about 3 1/2 oz.) with a few tablespoons of hot water over low heat. Blend until smooth. Add a few drops vanilla or almond extract. Pour over cooked brownies.

The Bite of Historical Foreboding...




"If people let the government decide what foods they eat and what medicines they take, their bodies will soon be in as sorry state as are the souls of those who live under tyranny."
-Thomas Jefferson


((My vote goes to this fella))

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