Thursday, January 18, 2018

To Suffer Or Not To Suffer?

To Suffer Or Not To Suffer..

Menopause must be a well known subset of feminine existence; the young may dismiss it, the older generations may ignore it, and somewhere in the middle, many cringe at the mere mention of the ‘scourge’ of it. I come from a long line of European professional sufferers, but somehow escaped the natural ills of the female body as they did—did I practice my father’s stoicism? Or  did my paternal grands’ basic nutrition help me to live as if I was a part and whole of this terrible and fragile life?

So for a chance to explain how to survive this midlife unpleasantness, here are a few hints to live as if this naturally occurring was just 'normal’. Listening to grocery store conversations and motor vehicle dept long lines, you may surmise that everyone knows someone in a bad mood, ie:PMS or Menopause. This gender specific problem is the source of much derision, for disgruntled employees or family. Take it easy, they just can't resist the choice of poor taste or nasty jokes. They are just glad it’s not happening to them.

First of all, mind over matter--easier said than done; grab a warm wet towel, wrap around waist to cover at least the belly of this beast, then lay a warm damp wash cloth to forehead--sit back and relax, feel the soft cloth and its warmth penetrating your very being, close your eyes (and your ears), breathe slowly, deeply--yes you can stand it, nothing else matters for these precious minutes, this is your time, the rest of your day will soon enough become the focus. Repeat as needed ( i suspect that may be often) add a drop of essential oil if you like the scent of orange or cedar?

Breath control removes or rearranges much of the accumulation of stress factors; inhale very slowly through nose, concentrate on the air--hold that thought for a few seconds--exhale through lips, and visualize the spent fumes of rage and smoke or whatever has built up in your day-- now as you blow out through your mouth--return to zero two or three times--do this small routine anytime you feel the need--this single free trick is a much needed social tool at any age, especially now.

Now for nourishing this unruly body: There are many grains and legumes to help in the replacement of the missing hormones in your life--As you no longer need reproductivity, you still must feed the bones and the nerves. Isoflavones, naturally available genistein, daidzein and estradiol are found in the phyto-estrogens of soybeans, lentils and chickpeas or yams. Other foods also contribute to the well-being of any changing body.

For general wellness; there are specific teas to savor as warm or cold brew along the day or as evening rituals. Hops, real licorice, roman chamomile, evening primrose, red clover and ginseng in soothing teas. Smoothies made with soy milk and avocado, aloe vera juice or nopalitos can calm the very center of the digestive tract while maintaining bone mass, mucous membranes for suppleness and brain activity for acuity and memory..

Thyme and oregano, ginseng, orange peel or peach leaves make a calming and flavorful addition to many soups and stews. simply include them in a cotton bag or tea strainer, drop in cooking liquid  to be removed at serving time., the whole family or friends could feel the benefits of fine seasoning, right?

Vegetables are the backbone of nutrition, and if your bone density suffers from THE change, well then double up on such helpers as flaxseed, preferably ground and sprinkled on cereal and rice dishes. Mushrooms also contain lignin to promote better digestive activity. Yes, there are healthful snacks to add to your wellness without denial and withdrawal as well--tofu treats, black currants or gooseberries, blueberries and almonds--soy milk puddings, tempeh, and roasted soy nuts for the crunch worthy..

Main meals should include recipes centering on the leguminous family; soy beans, lentils, chickpeas, boiled and used as tahine, dips, salads, casseroles or spreads for the lunch crowd. Yams come in several types and sizes, pumpkins also provide essential nutrients to help relieve symptoms of menopause. Since vitamin B is a necessary demand of the changing body, perhaps some fatty fish or lean meat may be included in this page, 

<recipes with grocery lists to come later>.

The most beneficial part of eating well and exercising or breathing deeply is that you become acutely aware of regaining control over the act of living. And that is fine for anyone including-- self.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Eggs and Company

The ever versatile egg has had quite a ride in the culinary traditions of many countries; it is a nutritional icon of bakers and chefs all across the nation. Home cooks rely on this quick and easy resource for thrifty meals. Children and the elderly find the soft protein chewable and digestible. and why not include the pets on this festive gourmet parade? At less than a dollar a dozen presently, the whole family can indulge.

Medical arena scare tactics have vilified the 'poor' egg industry; first it was the cholesterol, till that theory was reversed by research on the quality vs quantity  of metabolic process of the eggs. Now the focus is directed to cage-free production and salmonella or avian flu--Buyer beware! If the consumer intends to eat eggs raw in smoothies or out of shell, then it is best to depend on field raised chickens and reputable stores.

NOW! for the fun part of 'eggdom': What I do with the humble, yet majestic source of life, this egg in my kitchen.

1) Boiled Eggs, How and When:
Gently put eggs in bottom of pan--(i use a whole dozen for various purposes) cover with cold water--add a tsp of salt--bring to a boil for five minutes--turn heat off--cover with lid for five extra minutes.
--empty hot water in sink--fill pan with cold water till that is warm--empty again--Put a towel on counter--then roll each egg with GENTLE pressure to crack the surface only--pull--peel--rinse egg.( i let other eggs soak in the cold water while i peel the diaphenous inner skin off the smooth egg white) done! After admiring your handiwork, grab a sharp knife to slice or cube the perfect white oval shapes. Ready?

What to do with Boiled Eggs?:
a simple white gravy can dress up a quick open faced toast:
3 heaping tablespoons of flour--i cup of milk--salt and pepper to taste--shake all in a glass jar--let a spoon of olive oil or bacon grease or best coconut oil heat on medium in sauce pan--add liquid to pan--stir constantly till thick, add more milk or water or broth till smooth--add egg cubes--five minute total and you are serving a nutritious go-to breakfast, lunch or why not dinner.
serving suggestions: bacon bits, parsley leaves, green onion slices, pepper flakes and grated cheese all add flavor and eye appeal, savor!

Egg Salad:
 a standard which requires only clean hands and a gourmet mind:
Armed with any kitchen tool capable of smashing the rubbery food into submission; you reduce the eggs which have not quite deserved an award for successful peeling. let rest in bottom of glass bowl--now in separate bowl, you mix any or all the following ingredients--3 Tsp mayonnaise--1 tsp mustard<if you must> Dijon for sure--a dash of pickle juice ( i prefer bread-and-butter or sweet gherkins) a pinch of salt and a sneeze of pepper flakes or red bell pepper cubes, green ones and even yellow ones for color and texture! add to the eggs. Don't taste yet! wait an hour as flavors blend and cool.
Serve on toasted sour dough or on crackers, with an olive on top of course!. let imagination play with your food! mint or parsley add to digestibility.  a discreet lemon squeeze brings out the essence of freshness.

Now for Quiche:
Easy way first:
Buy 2 pie shells--lightly poke shells with fork tips, paint surface with coconut oil or melted butter--bake in oven at 375 for only five minutes ..
In a large glass bowl, 1 cup of milk-- 3 large eggs--a dash of salt and pepper--sprinkle of onion soup mix--a tsp of baking soda--a tbsp of flour.and a bag of frozen spinach, or can of drained spinach-- mix well--pour evenly in shells--add grated cheese on top--bake 45 minutes till brown and dry crust.
 for Better Quiche?make own homemade crust--use half and half-- fresh spinach and pan fried onion cubes--fresh Gruyere swiss cheese and six eggs--rich and creamy.
 Bon Appetit!

Dress up leftovers with yellow eyed slices, or throw onto salads for that restaurant effect and taste.
cut eggs in half lengthwise and plant flowers like violets or rose petals along with bushy lemon balm or verbena sprigs on its sunny heart, pink Himalayan salt or red pepper flakes will finish the garnish;. fun and crunch!sprinkle wine vinegar or rice vinegar and oil across tops; voila!

Thursday, February 16, 2017

It's Only Water

Much of the developed world has enjoyed public water infrastructure over a century by now. Several generations of descendants have become so used to the facility of running water that the casual abuse of this precious liquid is considered normal by the majority of many countries. Local waterworks are aging, pipes corroding, from the aquifers to the sewerage, pumps are failing sporadically; it is time to pay attention to the stuff that slips through our fingers.

How many times a day do you consciously think of this abundant commodity and dismiss conservation advice? No time to stop the tap when brushing teeth? No patience to turn off the shower-head between soaping? How easy it is to be rushed into mindless gestures when a stressful lifestyle is knocking at the front door?

Preppers are people who seem to be aware of eventual conditions upon Planet Earth once the billions of inhabitants have neglected or abused its resources. We are advised to save water, to put water in clean, safe receptacles in case of public utilities failure due to disastrous weather events. The media are bombarded with fear tactics about the demise of polluted bodies of water. And yet, few are heeding the warnings. After a steady diet of “what ifs” we become inoculated against specific anxiety. We shrug and chug our worries between the kitchen sink and the bathtub. From home to workplace water flows easy.

The privatization of water is often necessary, because most consumers would not have the financial clout to dig a well and obtain pure H2O. Pipes, pumps, and plumbing are costly, corporations with legal and economic know-how can provide all aspects of bacterial and chemical safety, storage and pressure on a large scale. Water is not just that easy –come - easy - pshtt! Stuff for public use, it must first undergo a plethora of tests and twists, from a mayor’s desk to Councilmen’s chambers, to scientists and experts, to ditch diggers and well drillers; salaries are on the line. All of a sudden, I feel tired sorting through the tangible emergence of that earthly liquid.

I grew up where water was not readily available but rain was plentiful, in the city, we had a cold water flat. Comfort came the hard way in the countryside; eventually a well was dug, a hand pump was installed, a few years later, a tank was welded above it, then pipes were thrust through the two foot thick stone wall to the kitchen, and again to a water closet. Experiencing such a slow progress in the country prepared me for another slow ordeal in the western desert. Water was not expensive yet; it simply was not easily reached. We carried heavy plastic bottles till they were hot and we were exhausted.

When the news are replete with hardships inflicted on so many migrant populations, I immediately imagine how scarce potable water must be wherever they walk or live. From tap to toilet, the wait must be long and unsanitary, on whatever continent people live there are too many needs that are not met—and—water is the primary need, besides human connection. Looking for affordable solutions and humanitarian involvement empowers the reader and benefits society at large. Type ‘water’ in the search bar, see?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rearview Mirror, Same Driver.

 Here is an older article of mine which i have resurrected from a blog on the web.Posted in Dec 2007 on lamarguerite.

  So much has changed Casey's has moved uphill, friends moved to country, cars sold, children graduated or married..much of life used and re-purposed, so here is one blog post reused for comparison..

Thought Soup, an Environmental BlogAct by Nadine Sellers

 December 3, 2007 by lamarguerite

One day, Nadine surfaced in my blogging existence, and graced my blog with one of the most poetic comments I have ever come across. That was a few months ago. Since then, I have had the privilege of discovering her oh so inspiring poems and thought provoking pieces of prose. Nadine Sellers is a French writer… an observer of nature and mankind, a healer by profession, a teacher by avocation. After years in the desert West she is now living the writer’s perennial hope, sculpting a novel out of empiric survival and adventure. As she settles in the plains of the American Midwest, Nadine is in the process of crystallizing a lifelong passion for living, into an artful translation of ecological concern. Nadine brings science and literature into a blend of experimental exposé. You may find this fledgling project in Greenadine, verdigrass, her new blog, the inspiration for which arose from perusing green blogs and finding La Marguerite. just like that! out of the –green.

Six centuries BC. Lao Tsu wrote a set of basic principles which would simplify the relationship of man and nature. Succeeding philosophies have led us to an environmental impasse. Each moral cycle has spiraled mankind into poorly applied reasoning, and so man has lost his equilibrium. It will take good will and a lot of resolve to restore balance. Science has met with resistance ever since duality fostered a climate of rebellion in the mind of men.
” Knowing ignorance is strength, ignoring knowledge is sickness” from the Tao Te Ching.
As a lifelong amateur naturalist, i have found myself submerged by mounting evidence dooming personal efforts to irrelevancy. But wait! Before i drown in a nihilistic ocean of self pity, do allow me time to shake myself from defeatist complacency. The very nature which seeds doubt in mind, also offers enough resilience to adapt to changing conditions. As data streams in faster than laymen can fathom, the rest of us find the vestiges of old instincts kicking in under more than a century of industrial indoctrination.
Wherever i live, i seem to meet inveterate negaholics who refuse to admit there may be a causal factor to climate change. I have not confronted them publicly, but have met them within the ranks of family or friends. They question my way of life, very generously commenting on my apparent miserliness; Why do you save this? Just throw it out, nobody cares. Why bother, you’ll be dead before it becomes a problem. The list stretches beyond comprehension. So i use the wall strategy: when confronted, walk slowly around the bricks, actions speak louder than arguments. And then i write.
Resistance to change seems to drag the efforts of many a socio-economic level to adjust their consumption patterns. According to incoming scientific data, It appears to stem from an aversion to authority. The teacher, the preacher, the tax collector, and now some stranger wants them to give up the Trans-Am in the back-yard, and quit using the dual wheel monster truck to go to get a pack of cigarettes at the corner store? Clearly a clash of cultures here.
I live in the Midwest and yesterday, i saw the first cloth bag prominently displayed at the grocery store: “paper or plastic? Neither” boasted the printed logo. And i knew this tiny town had heard the drummer of the future. Of course the resident Amish culture slows the competitive edge of progress, and i appreciate it. Respect for the horse drawn carriage on the highway teaches necessary patience. Simplicity and conservatism can be useful attributes in the conflict of man versus Gia.
Thought Soup, an Environmental BlogAct by Nadine Sellers
There is a symbiotic relationship between spenders and savers in this, our biosphere. The insurmountable pile of evidence which dooms our puny efforts, also gives rise to new hope. In the most mundane of gestures you will find tiny treasures of personal pride. I write this first draft with a plastic pen, the logo claims “fire and water damage clean-up”, how relevant. The paper which i use to scratch out my outlines on, results from an apparent leak in the marketing strategies of junk-mail zealots. Any blank space is an invitation to real use, then the paper kindles my fire, added BTU for hearth and home. No waste in this household. I don’t play games with my conscience, no carbon trade-off mentality, not even a shade of humor in my staunch resolve to optimize the use of every resource available to me.
It is a game; a challenge to my imagination. I must find just one more way to use and re-use each product for which i am essentially grateful. Of course in the trial and error field of empiric savings, there have been casualties. Just yesterday, my innovative soupe-du-jour turned out so blahh, i had to prematurely commit it to the compost pile, much to my palate’s dismay. What a waste of a perfectly good Halloween pumpkin! It was the last stringy crop of turnips that ruined it all.
Out here in the back room of convenience, i ride the comfort zone. Bicycles parked in the garage for winter. Gas heater plugged in as nocturnal back-up to the fireplace. Electric appliances at the ready, though manual versions preferred. I console myself with the fact that the town council has voted for the installation of a wind farm upon the hill. How romantic, they’re going to grow some wind; i like local utilities, i prefer the ones which make responsible choices to produce energy from sustainable sources. And let me tell you, the winds around the prairie states are indeed sustained.
Entrenched in semi solid autonomy, i view governmental leadership as entertaining rather than worthy of worship. It saddens me to watch the mainstream throng catering to corporate idealism. When elected officials downplay irrefutable research and steer their constituency toward run away consumerism, i find my easy chair much too confining. If ecological concerns are relegated to dishonorable status beneath the lofty goals of economic growth, we could destroy entire biomes across the planet. We have. We continue to do so.
Readers, take heed from the Indonesian Government; a communique from Jakarta informs us that the Bali summit which is to begin Monday Dec. 3rd will be taking measures to save tons of carbon emissions. I can envision 190 international ministers and assorted staffs commuting by bicycle between meetings and workshops. The whole motley group followed by as many journalists and servants. All are cautioned to wear light clothing and short sleeves. Representatives of the United Nations Climate Change Consortium should not mind applying their own advice.
From this green segment of the map, i wish to extend a sense of communal spirit. I derive existential satisfaction from exchanging experience, be it mundane or universal. May the current steer us away from blind consumption, and toward true appreciation of our nature. I do believe it is in the acquired taste of a simple glass of water. Drink up to the new greens and the old ones too!.
House sold, new one restored, old garden mowed, new one inspired, old car to new owner, old Casey to parking lot, the horse and buggy remain valid, one more birthday and the wind still blows in Albany!

Friday, November 28, 2014

An Omelet in my Pocket

I baby-sit chickens, OK, I chicken-sit, no, I chicken-care. Guess there are no precise terms for the vigilant feeding of fowl. So, here I was last night, all hens in the coop-condo and time enough to check the self-feeder and water-warmer. I placed a rock across the critter lane under the wall to block passage to the nightly convenience store that was kitty-corner to the roosting perch, just within reach of leaping rodents and flying squirrels.
Doors and gates duly locked, I scanned the horizon, no traffic in town this frosty night. Then I saw a red fox coming up from the creek three blocks down. Tail held straight behind his long body, the magnificent animal did not break stride as he walked up the street. His pelt would have been a trapper’s prize. His image could have graced nature magazines. I was busy making memories to soothe the savage within.
Then he spotted me, nose to breeze, eye alert to human, he listened for far away vehicles. Resuming his rhythm, with thin legs limber under floating shape, he peered both ways before crossing the highway. His white cheeks disappeared into long black stripes along his imperturbable snout. The bright tip flashed behind his fluffy dark tail. I remained transfixed for the privilege of meeting this handsome specimen of local fauna.
After starring into the anonymous darkness of the woods, I remembered the solitary night calls of a yipping fox chasing lawn rabbits. A smile crept along my lips under the woolen scarf. I crossed the ‘fox’ highway, looking both ways, of course. Reached into my pocket and found a viscous mess. three casualties of haste must have been smashed while attending to chores. Sticky yolks, snotty whites and sharp eggshells met bare fingers. This would surely enrich the composter.

I felt content enough to let the sight of a free animal guide me between the day and the omelet in my pocket.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Food Passion or Food Fashion?

pockmarked and disregarded; an apple in a world of glossy food photographs.

Food passion or food fashion?..In a week of focusing on the 2013 Zero Food Waste Week, there will be many angles from which to see the way our ingrained appetites affect our impacting waste environment; and enlarging waists.

Tradition rides on the back of hunger, and as historical observers can attest, waves of famines have carried poor nutritional habits to perdition. The most notable in the last centuries being Ireland and Darfur, passing by Biaffra. For every mother who has ever invoked the sight of bony starvelings to induce her children to happily taste their fare, there is a larger truth behind the despair of food waste.

Those reading from a conveniently located screen may have to use imagination to feel the full weight of near starvation. Several agricultural movements have imbalanced food production since global trading began. Larger, more powerful means of cultivation and transportation made it too easy to manipulate the markets.

For millenia, middlemen have conspired to speed up growth and containment of food distribution. I obtain sugar from Hawaii, cloves from Zanzibar or vanilla purely extracted of Jamaican exotic! Recipes goad me to use more of each, more of every ingredient at each social turn of event. Spice of life means raking, prodding earth and utilizing distant resources, human and otherwise. I can' t lose one single gram of these precious commodities. That's sacrilegious!

Foodies are the new gourmets, they have brought culinary arts to the doorstep of every reader of cuisine blogs. Digital photography has enhanced saliva secretion over wide publications across the entire planet. I am sure there is a Jivaro, right now, sitting in a hammock under a thatch roof, thumbing through delicious shots of head cheese on pickled grape leaves from Greece, elegantly displayed on silver platters.

Satellite communications disregard political frontiers to the point of elevating expectations in any random area. Discontent rises with technological progress. Grandma grumbles when dial-up slows down her new recipe download. Neighbors find better cookie patterns. Teachers make funnier faces on their weekly cupcakes. Food fashion is out of control...and who's gonna clean up the mess? I mean THE mess. Shipping miles, oil spills, mechanical problems, trucker's motel bills, somebody's gotta pay for all that. Somebody' s gonna get hungry for that.

Ask any kid in lunch line if he knows where his food is coming from and you won't need to switch on the comedy channel for a month. His parents are so alienated from the farmers, packers or milkers that it' s very easy for him to chuck the food in the bin. Oh the waste! Where is Darfur again? Oh yeah, I forgot, children starve there, the school holds a subscription to National Geographic; so I am aware.

Food waste is not just about hunger, it is about the damaging attitudes growing as fast as mold around us. It is not the half bun, the bread crust or the apple with one bite out of it sticking out of the lunch box. It is about the lack of pleasure in the face of the child. It' s about the disgust in the adult's eye in the cereal aisle. How about the sadness in my eye when I pass what should be fresh and local foods, now imprisoned under plastic wrap with cartoon figures winking at short wailing beggars from the shopping basket seat.

Time to give credit to my own, I've never had to poke or prod mine to clean their plates, they left very little reason to wash dishes at all. No matter what was served straight from garden or desert. OK, the burnt meat did not pass the test, how could I ever forget that? and one still doesn't like watermelon. But I waste here!

Friday, August 23, 2013

Zero Waste prep post.

What binds writers and readers together in any measure is the humanity. I wish to approach the experience of Zero Waste Week from such a standpoint; not as a scientific exposé. The only research I will rely on is empiric - mine by will or accident, (and I 've had plenty of the later). My whole kitchen, my entire life has been a more or less joyful experiment in living according to the laws of nature, rather than strictly those of mere men.
 these tiny toms were ready for chutney...

I suspect our attitudes are formed early, eating habits seem ingrained by age two, oh yes I have observed lots of these little creatures that spit and squawk at the sight of vegetables..I 've been subjected to amazing restaurant displays of wee ones screaming for something 'other' than what they were served. And don't forget the parents, scoffing at a perfectly presentable dish of magnificent look behind the eatery and you' ll find all these wonderful cuts of expensive items, some nearly intact; that's enough to make a zero waster march back in and shove the indecent leftovers in the large purses of the offensive patrons.. alright I never have acted on such unsociable impulses..just indulging my wild imagination here.

Waste is no longer acceptable on a planet carrying more than seven billion people, oof! That's a lot of mouths. Think that I can instantaneously feel guilty when I must send rough peelings to the soil enrichment program; compost pile or bin..well it is a rare day when I put in more than eggshells and coffee grounds or tea leaves on there. My usual installments run along the truly indigestible or the rare rancid range of neglect. In the days when I had a VITAMIX, a superb blender by name, I included eggshells and banana peels in the smoothies for calcium phosphates and potassium. Although I did not enunciate each mineral benefit, my children still benefited of a free science lesson at every meal. It worked! Oh yes, they still eat well, in fine health.
this is the recycled industrial vacuum container for food and paper waste compost bin; see it works!

My humble secondhand blender makes use of overripe fruits and end-of-cycle vegetables. Many speedy wonders can be performed with past-their-prime veges. For example, cukes and kale leaves for a spontaneous creamy vichyssoise cold soup; just add sour cream, sea salt, pepper or in my case, a garlic clove. For Zero Waste Week, I shall drop some taste hints about more successful ways to make-do-make good recipes to avoid any waste of ANY FOOD..math tells me that zero means nada, none, zilch. That's always been my subconscious aim.

Morality does not necessarily motivate the act of saving foodstuffs, frugality plays a part in the daily activity of an inveterate saver, of course..but I believe the innate gratitude of a person remains an inherent factor in that kind of behavior toward natural resources. Well, natural has become a 'relative term' in GMO parlance. Unless you have lots of free time or money to shop carefully, you may be saving something more than organic substance. Unless you grow your own (I mean foods) you run the flexible risk of adopting unknown ingredients to sustain bodies and minds.

So, are we ready to face a whole week of No waste? Easy for me to say; this coincides with a huge cache of garden harvest. I am the fortunate recipient of gorgeous tomatoes and cucumbers from folks who appreciate my utter appreciation of their bounty. And then I have my own squash and onions, melons and grapes, apples or pears. What is a cook to do? Can-can-can do. I will illustrate the lazy kitchen maid's way to preserve goodies, so that only tails and apple worms are returned to such generous dirt as I am glad to have right here in compost heaven... 

Read you later! Comments are a rich source of innovation; crossing toes, hoping to learn and enjoy.