Thursday, December 31, 2009


Our frosted mailbox
the day before Christmas Eve

We have been out of commission this past week due to some nasty malware. During this time we were snowed in for four days over Christmas (it was lovely), enjoyed our four-day mini-vacation, and happily bunkered down during the frigid snowy-blowy days.

Happy New Year, or as the Swedes say, GOTT NYTT ÅR!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

And then I ran quickly for a pen

Diego said the funniest thing this afternoon. His eyes were wide and his voice full of wonder; I could tell he was really pondering the conundrum as it came out.

"Is my body magic . . . ? Because . . . . . . .
. . . . . How does my body make a poop?!"

I dropped everything and scrambled for my daybook, wrote the quote down exactly because I always forget the precise wording, which is so crucial, then proceeded to explain as best I could, from chewing right on down to the colon. (It was brief, mind you.)

Without missing a beat, he immediately responded, "Oh" and then, "Now let's read The Secret Garden!"

And so we did. He is just wild about it, loving the mystery and intrigue. We just started today and read while Truen napped; unbelievably, we got to page 62 before Squeeze got home from work.

Sixty-two pages! He just kept on asking for more, and I obliged. (I enjoyed every single minute of it, too - The Secret Garden is a favorite from childhood.)

I think I'm growing a book lover . . . eeeeek! How exciting!

Monday, December 21, 2009


I have two recipes to share with you this evening, both of which my family has been enjoying thoroughly. They're out of my most favorite cookbook, How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman.

By the by, the cabbage recipe is for you, Ash. I expect a full report once you've tried it, what you think, how you like it, etc. And that's an order!


  • 2 TBSP butter (I use lard)
  • 1 head cabbage, about 1 1/2 lbs, cored and chopped
  • 1 TBSP minced garlic
  • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • 1 TBSP peeled and minced or grated fresh ginger
  • Juice of 1 lime (I just splash it in from the bottle . . . not fresh, I know)

- Place the butter in a large, deep skillet over medium-high heat (a 12 inch cast-iron pan is perfect for this, but go w/ medium heat instead). When the butter melts, add the cabbage. Cook, stirring occasionally for 5 to 10 minutes.

- When the cabbage is limp but not mushy, add the garlic, salt & pepper, and cook another 2 minutes, stirring.

- Add the ginger and cook another minute. Drizzle with the lime juice and serve.

Yo! Delicious. It is especially fabulous with fried eggs for breakfast, but would be a good side in just about any meal. Out of the boys, little Truen especially enjoys it. "Mo' cabbisge," he says. Diego eats it, but with a lot of complaining about how he hates cabbage beforehand.


  • 5-6 eggs at room temp., separated
  • 2 TBSP maple syrup
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2-3 cups milk or cream or combination thereof
  • 1/2 cup rum (optional)
  • Freshly grated nutmeg to taste

- Beat the yolks with the maple syrup until well blended. Stir in the vanilla and the milk and rum if desired

- Beat the egg whites and fold them in thoroughly. (You need not be too gentle; they should lighten the drink but not be discernable.) Top with grated nutmeg and serve.

This recipe is adapted from the original in the cookbook, because 1) I don't use refined sugar, and 2) I found that I like my egg nog much thicker ----> thus, more eggs.

We have the good fortune of having eggs from our own chickens, so I have no qualms about consuming them raw. I would feel the same freedom if I was buying eggs from a small farm/farmer/co-op. The milk I use is also full-fat and raw, that is, unpasteurized - so delicious.

A friend who was here last week said, "This tastes like a custard smoothie!" Yes, indeed. One could argue is that is the perfect tide-over snack or finish-'em-off dessert, full of all that good fat and protein. And sa-weet.


I would also like to comment here: I have talked about my old-fashioned hand-mixer before, the one we got from our old neighbor in Minneapolis, Wilburn. But I just have to exclaim about it again. I can't resist . . . I adore it for more than its beauty and intrigue.

It is so easy to use! I like it better than an electric mixer! It is easier to clean! It's fun! Kids like it! It is as quick as a flash, with no assembly required! I recommend it to anyone -- pick one up the next time you're at a thrift store!

Seriously, it's the best. I'm starting to get a little suspicious about all this electric stuff. Ultimately, it seems so unnecessary . . . just . . . superfluous. Like electric can openers . . . really??? Really.

(Whew . . . got that outta my system . . .)

Saturday, December 19, 2009

And it's hard to hold a candle / In the cold November rain . . .

November Rain came on iTunes this evening . . . and honestly . . . I felt like I was 15 years old again. Isn't it amazing how a song (or any sound, really, or a scent or conversation) can transport you back in time?

My first-and-only "slow-dance" of my teenage years was to November Rain at the Homecoming dance my freshmen year of highschool. All nine miserable minutes and twelve exrutiating seconds of it. That was the same Homecoming where I hid in a side-room to avoid being tailed by another boy who I knew was going to ask me to slow-dance. (I was so scared . . . I just couldn't handle things like that at that point in my life.)

And I didn't return to another school dance until the middle of my junior year when I couldn't resist the fun anymore. I dealt with the slow-dancing dilemma by running around and pinching butts or snapping bras during the slow songs. I'm sure people looooooved me.

Another big song at that point in my life was Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. And you know it was all the grandeuer and drama that pulled me in . . .

Friday, December 18, 2009

Getting over the fear of fever

I ran into this great article today, put out there by the Canadian organization Vaccination Risk Awareness Network.

I myself was fearful of fever when Diego was a baby, mostly because I was frightened that it would get "too high" and cause brain damage or kill him. Ultimately, I didn't really understand its purpose. And, honestly, out of pure inexperience, I was heavily influenced by conventional "wisdom". (I am so thankful to have broken out of that mold . . .)

Just like labor, let's work with our body instead of against it. Fever has a purpose. Fever is our friend.

Check it:

As loving and caring parents, we naturally want to help our children feel better when the inevitable fevers, flus, colds and various illnesses arise in childhood. Many will reach for popular over-the-counter remedies to suppress fever and alleviate symptoms in the belief that these products are reliable, effective, and safe. But how safe are they really? And what are the risks when fever is suppressed and symptoms masked? Does fever have a critical function in fighting sickness that we have lost sight of?

There is plenty of scientific evidence validating the benefits of fever in fighting viral/bacterial inflammations and it’s important role in the healing process. Fever increases survival rate during infectious diseases – basic information that has yet to reach the majority of people who remain misinformed and misled by pharmaceutical and medical propaganda which still shamelessly advocates the use of antipyretic drugs at the first sign of fever. The myth that untreated fevers will lead to seizures and brain damage is perpetuated ad nauseum. Fever is maligned, misunderstood and seen as an enemy to be feared rather than an ally that signals the immune system gearing up for action.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009


  • It's official: my favorite vegetable is cabbage. So versatile, so delicious. I could eat it every day, in every way. (I probably do.)
  • The days here have been in the negative digits and wonderfully sunny. I had forgotten what a lovely place our sunroom is in the winter months. I keep the heat at 60 F during the day, but bask in the mid-70's in mid-afternoon in sunroom. De-lightful.
  • I made egg nog for a mama-and-kiddie Christmas party we had at our house yesterday afternoon. For the record, I like more eggs than milk; the thicker the drink, the better. Yo, it is so tasty. And I'm still trying to avoid dairy . . . oh dear.
  • I ironed a tablecloth for the said Christmas party yesterday. We were recipients of Squeeze's grandma's old wooden ironing board this past year. Before that, we were sufficing (or not, because we NEVER iron) with a rinky-dink tabletop version that a roommate in college left behind one year. So, honestly, with this big, beautiful old-fashioned wooden ironing board, with an old-fashioned fabric-cord iron, I ironed the tablecloth in bliss, realizing that I may, in fact, really enjoy ironing. There was just something about the heat, the hiss of the steam, and watching the wrinkles disappear. I really enjoyed it. Seriously.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

What?! Saturday again???

Seriously, I don't know where the time goes. I thought I just posted!

Today we are having a cozy day at home. It is delightful. Squeeze put up the wooden snow fence along our driveway. The wind whips any plowing obsolete within hours or, if we're lucky, days; so it will be very nice to not have to worry about that this year. Two years into this gig . . . we've finally learned.

I finished Persepolis this morning while Truen snoozed on my booz [bosom]. Wow . . . what a book . . . what an inside into the life of a child and her family during the Islamic Revolution in Iran. I found it to be very thought-provoking and moving. This was also my first graphic novel; I wasn't sure what to expect, but the story in this genre proved to be very compelling.

Now we are decorating for Christmas. The boys are bouncing merrily off the walls. And I am going to make real egg nog. Nummmmmmm . . .

Saturday, December 05, 2009

No joke

When I was a kid I used to wonder if we were all cartoons and if we were, why couldn't I see the lines around my body?

Thursday, December 03, 2009

Knock-your-socks-off cornbread

We have been enjoying the most delicious cornbread EVER. Baked in a cast-iron skillet, the texture is scrumptiously crumbly, and the flavor is more similar to roasted corn vs. the cake-like or, conversely, hard-as-a-rock "essence of cornbread" that I am used to. It is divine! We have been groaning in delight about it for days.

The recipe is a "little more work" than the average cornbread recipe, but mostly in the fact that one has to plan ahead. But since that is the direction I am moving within the realm of the kitchen, it doesn't phase me. I am actually beginning to think it is easier.

It involves soaking the cornmeal in [pickling] lime water for 7 hours -- the flour in buttermilk or yogurt for 24 hours. Other than that, no different. Not more work, just a different approach to food preparation -- one that I am growing to love.

Soaking cornmeal with lime is a traditional practice, one that releases the full spectrum of B-vitamins; and arguably, fuller flavor as well. Soaking flour dissolves the phytic acid, rendering it more digestible, unlocks the full nutritional qualities, and adds to the light-fluffiness of a baked good. (Baking powder is unneccessary, thank you ma'am!)

Before making the recipe, one has to make the lime water.

  • 1 quart canning jar
  • 1/2 inch pickling lime
  • Filtered water to the top
  • Shake jar
  • Let sit overnight
  • The resultant clear liquid is your lime water
  • Pour carefully when using
  • Store at a semi-cool temp

Pickling lime is caustic, so handle carefully.

Once that is taken care of, you're good to go. Even better, instead of mixing up a batch 3 days before making a pan of cornbread, simply keep a jar of lime water on hand. That way, planning can take place a mere 1 day prior to the actual meal vs. several days.

[hee-hee . . . I realize how utterly outrageous that sounds to someone who isn't used to cooking this way . . . it must seem so looney]

The recipe is adapted from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon. Truly, this cookbook has been a radical influence on my understanding of food: as nourishment vs. hunger-filler, traditional ways of preparation, vital nutritional fats, etc. It has given me a sense of direction, not to mention form and substance, to my whole foods gut instinct. (Which is, basically, "If it doesn't occur in nature, or you can't create it in your own kitchen, don't eat it.") And because traditional diets are based on seasonal and local food resources, this is emphasized throughout the book. I really appreciate that.


  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 1 1/2 cups lime water
  • 1/2 cup spelt flour*
  • 1 cup buttermilk or yogurt
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

~ Stir in flour and buttermilk or yogurt and let stand in a warm place for 24 hours. (Those will milk allergies may use 1 1/2 cups water plus 2 TBSP whey, lemon juice or vinegar in place of undiluted buttermilk or yogurt.)

~ Soak cornmeal in lime water for approx. 7 hours.

~ When it comes time to make your cornbread, blend in remaining ingredients. Pour into a buttered and floured 9X13 inch pyrex pan (or even better . . . a 12 inch cast-iron skillet). Bake at 325 degrees for about 1 hour or until a toothpick comes out clean. (FYI: it cooks much quicker in cast-iron)


*The recipe calls for 1/2 cup spelt/wheat/kamut flour and 1/2 cup unbleached white flour, but I accidentally used only the 1/2 cup spelt/whole wheat twice and LOVED the way it turned out.