Thursday, November 25, 2010

Hatcho? Hugs? Huckleberries!



In March, I went on a wonderful 3 day vacation with my girls. On the way, we stopped at the Seed Bank in Petaluma. What a fabulous place! I was tempted to buy everything, just to be reminded that I just about kill everything exotic.

So, I picked a pack of huckleberry seeds, and some Gypsy tomatoes.

My huckles grew...I was so excited! I finally got them in the ground. Now, I am not sure where huckleberries normally grow, but I have never seen them here. I bet my huckles wished they never knew me in the summer...105 degrees and melting.

They survived the summer (which was milder than usually, but we had some scorchers), the sporadic watering, the aphid infestation (ew), and Rex. As the huckles ripened, I picked them and put them in the freezer.

Today I went to pick more. The freeze last night really damaged the leaves. So picked a basket and a half of huckles, and said farewell until the spring. I hope my two bushes (which are well over 6 ft, before I cut them back) survive.

In celebration of many celebrations happening this weekend, I will make huckle muffins!

Recipe: http://www.cooks.com/rec/view/0,184,155160-235204,00.html

Have a Happy ThinkFULL day!
Much love,
Heike

Friday, November 19, 2010

Apples, Apples, Apples...& a new family member.

While much of the rest of the country is already enjoying the first snow, we here in the California "low lands" are just feeling the first "eek" of chill. I love the first chill...my favorite time of year is now. Especially in the mornings when everything is fresh & dewey...

Did I mention before that autumn is my favorite time of year?? :)

I always look forward driving up to Apple Hill with my family to buy apples. Granted, nowadays Apple Hill comes to you at the Farmers' Market, but we still drive up the mountain instead. We had to wait for it to get colder, and I will NEVER go on a weekend, so we finally made it up there on Monday.

We returned with close to 50lbs of APPLES...yum.

I thought I would come home and make apple everything. Instead, all my energy went to a million other things, including my new baby.

Let me introduce you to our newest family member, LuLu:




Yep, she is a beauty! And since the cute PG&E man fixed her today too, she is both beautiful & functional. So what is a girl to do? Apple everything. Just so you know the pivotal importance of LuLus arrival, I have always swooned at these old ovens. My kitchen cabinets are original 1950 metal cabinets, now painted rad, but still metal :). Most of my neighbors have ripped these out for more modern kitchens, my kitchen is unmodern, and I still believe I bought this house because of the cabinets (sure as hell was not the neighborhood....). I feel like a long lost child has found her way home....ahhhhh. Ok, enough of that.




Apple Cake

5-7 apples, peeled & sliced
1 stick butter
3/4 cup sugar
pinch of salt
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cup flour
swig of milk :)

Heat oven to 356 degrees. Yes, 356.

Whip butter smooth. Add sugar & eggs, and beat for a least 4 minutes. Add vanilla. Sift flour & powder (or not..), add to mixture and alternate with milk to keep the batter smooth, but not runny. Should have a rather stiff consistancy.

Grease medium spring form. Spread batter on bottom, then layer apples, careful not to overlap too much.

Bake 60-70 minutes.

Sprinkle with brown sugar, cinnamon, and almond slivers. Serve with whipped cream :).


My applesauce is simple apples, cloves, and cinnamon. I don't even add sugar, except in the end I may add a bit brown sugar or maple syrup to thicken it up.





And with all those fabulous apple cores, I make scrap vinegar. Also adding cloves & cinnamon (are you seeing a pattern?).


Salute', my friends, have a fabulous weekend! I hope I have inspired you to be apple-ly.
Much love,
Heike

Friday, November 12, 2010

Time to unpack the Quick Healers.


After being under the weather for a day or two, I thought it would be the perfect time to share some of my favorite "family quick heal" tips :). In this house, as soon as I see signs of a cold or infection, I start to work. We choose not to get flu shots, and are always out & about, so we are constantly subjected to germs.

A preventative, and cold buster: Elderberry Syrup! It is so simple to make your own, and much cheaper than buying it. There is a wonderful tutorial at Mountain Rose, (which, by the way, is where I get all my dry herbs. If you click on the button over on the side, Herbmagik will get some brownie points :)...). I make a big pot and store it in the fridge. You can mix the syrup with water kefir (my kids love this!), pour it over syrup, etc.

For sore throats make a strong sage tea with honey. I always make extra tea and keep it in a mason jar. Gurgling with it several times a day helps get rid of the infection. This is also soothing for any sores that pop up in the mouth due to colds.

If you are already stuffy, make onion soup. Very simple:
Take 2-3 large onions, chop. Heat a large pot with olive oil, glaze onions until they are almost brown. Add 2-3 cloves of garlic while the onions are cooking. Add as much tumeric as you can stand. When onions and garlic are glassy, add about 4 cups of water. Simmer for 30 minutes. If you like it, add some fennel seeds while you are simmering, this helps sensitive bellies digest the onions better :). Salt & Pepper to taste, serve steamy.

Vitamin C can be easily acquired and administered to young & old with a mix of hibiscus & rosehips. Just put in a french press, this way the herbs can sit while the tea is sipped. No matter if it cools, this tea tastes yummy cold too. I make two pots in the morning, and the kids sip it throughout the day (much better than sweet juices).

Walk!! Bundle up and go outside while it is cool and crisp. There is nothing like fresh air for the lungs, and letting your skin breathe :).

Steam baths. Stuffy heads can benefit from steam baths. Add a little mint & comfrey to the water. Take a bowl, fill with boiling water, put your head over it, cover with a thick towel and BREATHE. Great for your skin too!

Sleep as much as possible.

Hope some of this helps you get through the germy season. Please add any tips you have! We usually get over any cold/flu symptoms within 2 days, but of course I am not a doctor, so please use with care :).

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Banishing the PASTA, because it gets on my nerves.

I made a few Samhain promises to myself (for new beginnings) that I will surely regret sooner than later.

For at least 4 weeks, I will refrain from eating white sugar (I don't eat much anyways, but occasionally...), and white flour (this will kill me). I love pasta. I can eat pasta three times a day, without any fancy topping.

I have tried whole wheat pasta (yech...), brown rice pasta (acceptable taste, but do not like the consistancy), and rice pasts (great for soups, not so great for solid food). My friends have suggested trying different brands of wheat pasta, so I will do that.

Why do I torture myself??

I am currently on a healing journey. For those who don't know: I was a in a car accident 19 years ago that smashed my bottom 5 vertebra. It also tore of some other vital strains of nerves, but some of them are coming back with a vengeance. After 1 year of suffering pain and not sleeping (thus my all nighters, my body is used to it), I tried Acupuncture. I helped while I was at the office. Now, I take pain meds when necessary (in other words, when I want to sleep). Since I refuse to do this my whole life, I am on a journey of healing.

Whew...it was a long explanation :).

There are several things in this circle of healing:
1. Eliminating all stress factors (yep, that means people too. Love 'em..but..)
2. Eliminating foods that may cause inflammations
3. Regular exercise.
4. Sleep training (yawn)
5. Daily infusions of Nerve/Calcium Mix (same parts Oatstraw, Nettle, Horsetail...prepare as infusion. Thank you, Rosemary Gladstar!
6. Daily infusions of blood cleansing tea.
7. SLEEPING!! No sleep is such a strain on nerves. Both mental & physical.

Good night, sweet ones.