The Hens of Pumpkin Hollow

20180214_152811They, too, wait for spring when fresh greenery pushes through to be pecked at and enjoyed by the hens of Pumpkin Hollow Farm.  I love chickens.  And the thing we missed most when we were away from a farm was having chickens.  They make a farm a home anywhere you can keep them.  Their colorful feathers, changing in the sun, their strut through high weeds and the way they tilt their head to look at you with one eye.  They are hilarious in demeanor and each one is as different as my cats.

Yogi and Hindi are Jersey Giants and we refer to them as the Jersey girls.  They tend to stick together.  Their large black feathers sparkle emerald in the sunlight.  They lay large brown eggs.  They were late bloomers but seem to be catching up with others.

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Eloise was supposed to be a Marans but she lacks speckles and I think she is actually an Australorpe.  She lays small tan eggs wherever she pleases; outside the coop door, near the chicken food-as if the egg popping out surprises her.  She wants to be pet but then changes her mind.  She sleeps by herself and is a little…um…special.  But she is very sweet.

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Buttercup is the tiny queen here.  A clean, white egg can be found each day.  Her breed is Buttercup which is what led to her name.  She looks like a miniature leopard with a rose shaped crown.  She wants nothing to do with us.  Unless we have a bit of cracked corn.

Owlette is an Auracana.  This lovely breed looks like an owl and lays blue-green eggs.  I would like a few more of these ladies.  They are sassy and good layers.

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We have fallen for Salmon Favorelles.  These girls are beautiful in their French finest and petticoats.  They lay pink eggs regularly and are very friendly.  Bubba is especially sweet.  Our granddaughter named our chickens.  Bubba and Chichi are cute names indeed.

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We feed organic layer feed and organic scratch.  They eat scraps from the kitchen as well.  They have a large fenced in area that was likely a dog run in the past with seven foot fencing.  They live in an adobe house with trumpet vine that climbs prettily up the side in the summer.  We are all ready for a little color and for winter to pass!  They are able to wander the yard on the days the puppy goes to the shop with me.  I don’t trust his puppyness quite yet.  Chickens are very easy to keep.  They require little more than a straw strewn shed or chicken coop, fresh water, scratch, oyster shells, scraps, and feed.  They love dirt baths and bugs and sunlight.  They put themselves to bed in the evening at last light.  All you have to do is open the door in the morning and close the door at night.

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We are vegan but we do eat the eggs from our own chickens.  Our chickens lead a very nice life with pets, treats, and lots of wandering adventures.  They will live here their entire life and so in that way they are lucky.  No factory farms, cages, enclosed barns, or slaughter for them.

So now as spring approaches we have the question to answer; do we “adopt” five more chicks even though the hatcheries are horrific and provide five chickens with a beautiful future or do we wait and see if we are sent five chickens that need rescuing?  There are many moral decisions to be made on a small hobby farm.  We do know that chickens make this mini-farm a happier place to live.  A farm without chickens is not quite a home.

The Farm Sanctuary

20171019_132845I can’t find anything written about it but word from the farmgirls in town is that we can now have two goats or sheep and up to twelve chickens.  Being such a farming community I was surprised that the town was so behind Colorado Springs and Denver when it came to legalizing farm animals in town.

Now this new news may not mean anything to our immediate future.  First and foremost we must pay off our debt.  I have a pretty lofty goal of paying off everything but the house this year.  Fifty grand is not easy to come by but I am determined to scrape and save and send farewell payments to our student loans.  Debt is most certainly a jailor and it is keeping us from our dreams.

And that dream might just be a farm sanctuary.  Years ago, huddled in the cold basement of a friend’s house who was letting us live there until we could get back on our feet, we drew out an elaborate plan one cool autumn night.  A farm.  The only thing we have ever wanted.  Rented farms were fun and disastrous.  Not having money made it difficult as well.  We imagined and created a farm that was a non-profit.  Something folks could get behind.  Our family-run farm would be complete with large vegetable, herb, and perennial gardens.  There would be a building to teach classes like homesteading arts, gardening, art, writing, cooking, herbalism, and preserving.  A place to serve meals and a place to house interns.   A general store would sell preserves and tinctures and produce.

The animals we accumulated on our past farms were never to eat.  At the end we had twenty-four chickens, two sheep for wool and entertainment, two goats for milking, and four ducks for eggs and laughs.  This time around we wouldn’t have the milking goats.  Cashew milk tastes pretty good.  But there are plenty of little boy goats that may need rescuing.  A wethered (neutered) goat is just like a puppy.  I eat the eggs of my beautiful chickens because, honest to god, they don’t care.  Eggs from the store-even organic, free range- come from horrid, cruel environments.  But my hens are named, snuggled, and live out their whole life with me.

If the animals are in a safe, happy environment and people can come to a farm and have a great vegan meal and play with farm animals and see the souls, personalities, and life behind each individual, that could make a profound difference.  To show folks that one person can make a tremendous impact on the environment, saving endangered species, save the lives of thousands of animals over their lifetime, and completely restore their own health would be the best possible work for me.

I know this is a big dream.  (Add to it that we want it in a warmer climate like southern California) I don’t usually dream quite this big.  It probably will not start this complete but will manifest and grow into itself.  We have been learning and preparing for this dream for the past ten years.  Here on this little urban sanctuary I have room for a few more rescued chickens.  Perhaps some ducks.  Maybe a wether.  Really, not much more if even that.

But first things first.  Create a written plan.  Learn how to start a non-profit.  Pay off debt.  Dream big.  Enjoy the present.

The Real Face of Farming and How to Change the World

elsaWe fell in love with her instantly.  She was so small, adorably white, and cuddly.  I gave her a bottle full of milk which she took with relish and snuggled into my arms to sleep.  Her name was Elsa.

A friend of ours gave her to us out of sympathy.  Our first two goats were Katrina, who after giving birth would not have anything to do with us and we were not able to milk her, who went to live with someone new, and Loretta.  Loretta was a rotund black dwarf who came to us pregnant.  We did not know this at first.  She loved my husband.  She followed him incessantly, attempting to help him with chores.  She just adored him and we loved her too.

emily and Flower

We were excited, as new goat farmers, that she was pregnant.  We would make some money off of her babies and then milk her.  The buckling within her womb was too big for her and his foot punctured through her uterus.  She died a rather painful, screaming death.  Instead of deciding that perhaps animals shouldn’t be used for milk, we decided to get a gun in case we needed to put future animals out of their misery.  (We sold it a year later.)

Elsa was placed in our arms.  A three day old doe will melt anyone’s heart.  She loved to ride in our truck, windows down, music playing; she was like a puppy dog.  She went with us to speak at inner schools.  She introduced dozens of children to farming and the joy of goats.  She pranced about the living room.  She ate geraniums and loved farmer’s markets and attention.  We loved her.

Here’s the thing about farming-even sustainable, humane, compassionate farming-it’s not any of those things.  No one was more compassionate and affectionate as my husband and I, yet when you have a farm, your perceptions change.  Animals are expensive to keep, and there comes the mentality that animals have to earn their way.

IMG_0801We bred Elsa-because we had a small dairy- and she gave birth.  We whisked the baby away.  She cried and we told ourselves that animals don’t feel the same as humans, she won’t even miss the baby.  She got mastitis and huge scabs on her udders made it so that we could barely milk her.  I had to hurry because if she was in milk she was worth more than not.  I sold her for two hundred and fifty dollars to someone who drove out from New Mexico, loaded her into the minivan and was gone.

It wasn’t until later that I realized that I just sold and got rid of our beautiful Elsa.  It is not that we were heartless, we just fell into the perceptions of a small farm.  Our friends all had the same mentality, and it was just the way things were.

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The roosters were friendly.  All of our chickens were.  They had all been kissed and carried around by us or our children since they were two days old, freshly home from the feed store.  But they were not kind to the hens.  Their roughness trying to mate the chickens caused gashes in the hens’ necks and a lot of stress.  There is only one way to get rid of a rooster.  We placed them in dog kennels and took them to a nearby freelance butcher that would take care of them.  We joked and laughed and said they were heading to freezer camp.  We put up the filter, the barrier, the wall, the ignorance, that all farmers put up.  Two living beings were about to be killed.

My husband drove by and saw that they were still in their kennels two days later.  No water.  No food.  They were delivered to us in plastic bags.

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We thought chickens got their heads cut off and it would be quick and easy.  But that is not so.  Chickens are bled out.  Upside down they hang while their necks are slit.  The blood runs across their face, up their nostrils, into their eyes, until at last they succumb.

Laverne was a beautiful black hen, whose feathers shimmered green in the sunlight.  She loved to sit on my lawn chair next to me as I read.  All chickens have personalities.

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“The animals die quickly,” we told ourselves.  Hanging by one leg, having their necks slit, fearful, swinging from overhead, not understanding.  We could hear the cows lowing frantically a mile away at the slaughterhouse.  Not even the few that are dispatched by gunshot die quickly.

I had been vegetarian for twenty-seven years and vegan for two years.  I was fiercely passionate about animal rights.  We dreamed of living in the country and our friends around us all had small, sustainable, compassionate farms.  We started drinking goat’s milk.  We got our own goats.  We prayed for all girls.  Because there is no other use for male goats.  Most don’t even become dinner, they are killed and dumped in most operations.  “I don’t want to hear if the males are becoming meat!” If you knew how many times I have heard that from goat farmers.  Ignorance makes us lose our empathy.  It makes us lose ourselves.

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It is easy to put up walls so that one cannot see the personalities or the lives that are being taken in the name of country and farm living.  I told myself that it was hypocritical to be vegan because everything causes harm.  Our ancestors ate meat.  So and so is ninety and he’s fine!  Oh the reasons we come up with.  And there we were eating meat.  And in that time I watched our health flutter downwards in a spiral that could not be blamed on anything else.

Many people will decide that gluten is actually their health downfall.  Perhaps it is chronic disease, inflammation, hereditary.  I have found as a Clinical Herbalist that there is not an ailment out there that cannot be benefited by adopting a plant based diet.  In fact there is not an ailment out there that is not caused or worsened by eating meat.

But the idealic countryside of cows grazing in the hazy dawn of a country morning would not exist.  Farm animals have many good days and one bad day!  It’s the circle of life.  It’s healthier.  I never really believed the last statement as my lymph nodes grew larger and larger but one does tell themselves many things in order to justify what is not right.  I have been on both sides of the spectrum.  I can see the romanticized farming lifestyle.  But I can see and feel the karmic and physical and emotional and spiritual disaster that inevitably follows by consuming animal products.

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You see, the mothers do cry for their young.  The cows do wander out of the fields and down the street looking for their babies.  We get upset that kittens are boiled alive in China for food but not when a lobster does.  Society gets upset over a dog being eaten, but doesn’t bat an eye at lamb.  When the word cow becomes beef and sheep becomes mutton and we begin to make them less than sentient beings in our minds, we begin to fool ourselves.  We might be outraged that dogs are experimented on for cosmetics and pharmaceuticals but then feel hopeless and be a consumer anyway.  We may not wish to harm any animal but then feel overwhelmed and purchase the packaged, bleeding, unnamed meat in the grocery store.  Or maybe we buy from a sustainable, humane, compassionate farm.  Well, now you know how that turns out.

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It took me four years to realize what I was doing and what I had done.  The word “vegan” has a negative connotation to it and I thought I’d rather be ignorant than angry.  But it is not anger, you see, it is compassion.  It’s realizing what is actually going on.  It is realizing that our health and our spirit and our life will be more peaceful, and more beautiful, and healthier, and more vibrant once we let those illusions leave and let the wall down.  But I will warn you, you will begin to see things with new eyes.  You may be horrified, angry, empathetic, passionate, saddened, but we as humans were never meant to murder.  Imagine telling a small child to kill a rabbit.  It does not come naturally to us.  It is time to let the old myths go and the excuses and step into a more enlightened way of living.  Just wait and see how it changes you.

One Pot-Dreaming of Spring-Lemon Cake

20180124_161418There is something quite satisfying about sitting down with a cup of espresso or tea and a small piece of cake.  Especially if said cake isn’t that bad for you!  I don’t know anyone in love with rich, thick cakes and their complementing towering corn syrup frosting from the grocery store.  I also feel a little daunted by homemade cakes that require so much time and so many pans and those that call for separating the eggs!  My go-to cake recipes are from my third cookbook “The Rustic Vegetarian” (which may get a revision and get published).  They are perfectly sweet, light, delicious, moist, and easy as five minutes.

Here’s to dreaming of spring…

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Lemon Cake

3 1/2 cups of flour

1 1/2 cups of sugar

2 ts baking soda

1 t salt

1 ts of vanilla extract

1/2 cup of lemon juice

1 1/2 cups of non-dairy milk (I used homemade cashew milk)

2/3 cup of olive oil

2 T white or apple cider vinegar

Combine all ingredients in a bowl and pour into a prepared Bundt pan or two cake pans.

Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes.  Check for doneness.

Let cool for a few minutes then flip onto a plate.  Make a yummy glaze by combining powdered sugar, a touch of vanilla extract and lemon juice to desired consistency and drizzle over.

5 Reasons to Adopt a Plant Based Diet

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1- There is not a disease out there that can not be benefited, if not reversed entirely, by adopting a plant based diet.  Plants are medicine.  They contain every healing property needed to heal from cancer, diabetes, bone loss, dementia, heart problems, or colds.  That is what they were made for!  So in my work as a Clinical Herbalist when people are asking which medicine herbs to take, I always mention that they need to incorporate more plants into their diets too.  Kale and Broccoli can reverse bone loss.  Tomatoes and garlic heal the heart and wine relaxes the blood vessels.  Walnuts heal the brain and fresh greens remove built up mucous that inhibits memory.  There are thousands of food combinations and every single nutrient one needs is located in fruits, nuts, seeds, legumes, grains, and vegetables.

The more meat or processed foods one puts on their plate, the less room there is for the plants.  By adopting a plant based diet one gets all of the nutrients, none of the disease.

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2- Saves Money and Time!  We actually cut our grocery bill in half by eating a plant based diet.  In half!  This week I shopped at King Soopers and bought a week’s worth of groceries-all organic- for a hundred bucks.  (Kuddos to King Soopers for hearing the need and desires for more organic!)  Instead of an hour in the kitchen, I spend thirty minutes preparing a meal.

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3- More Eco-friendly– We are all a little freaked out by our own lusts for oil and gas and the impacts we as a cumulative society are making on this beautiful planet of ours that sustains us and nurtures us.  We purchase more fuel efficient cars and try to remember to turn the lights off but the one huge impact that one person could make is to adopt a plant based diet.  After all this time after the reports came out many years ago, our mainstream meat production is still the number one cause of greenhouse gases and pollution, the loss of species and rainforests, and the reason that so many pollutants get into our water ways.

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4- Animals and Karma– Let’s face it, when it comes to creating suffering, none of us really want to make an animal suffer.  (There really is no difference between a horse, cat, cow, dog, pig…) Yet we tell ourselves that it’s the circle of life, the cavemen did it, or it’s healthier, and we continue to eat ten times more meat than our ancestors ever did, create so much suffering by being a consumer, and then wonder why our bodies begin to rebel and fall apart.

My brother-in-law lives and teaches in Thailand and I asked him when he was here visiting, “What is it like there?  What wild animals do you have there?”

He replied, “There are no wild animals.  The people ate them all a long time ago.”

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5- It’s Fun!– I think I heard some of y’all choke out there. It is fun!  I love cooking and creating and it is fun to cook through a new cookbook.  It is fun to see what flavor combinations can be had.  We cook together and as we chop and laugh and sauté and pour a drink, we talk about our day, alter seasonings, and eat really, really healthy food.

We were vegetarian/vegan for a long time.  When we stopped we both started seeing just what eating meat does.  Gout, weight gain, back problems, hormone disruptions, circulatory issues….It is nice feeding my husband foods that will nurture and heal him, give him energy and well being.  It is nice feeding myself those foods as well.  I know I am doing my part to help the animal kingdom whom I adore, and am lowering my footprint on this little homestead.  I am saving money and making amazing, delicious foods.  There are so many beautiful books out there.  My new favorite is “The Homemade Vegan Pantry” by the magnificent Miyoko Schinner.  We have been cooking our way through it this week.  I highly recommend it.  I don’t want processed food in my plant based journey, so this helps me in seconds whip up delicious substitutes.

After years of experimenting here is my favorite plant based milk recipe:

Cashew Milk– Place 1 cup of cashews with 4 cups of filtered water in blender and blend until completely smooth and frothy.  No need to strain!  It should be completely blended and smooth enough to go through the cappuccino machine or into your cereal.

It’s a bright new year, here’s to your health and your karma!

Vegan Week 3 (tips for success and surprising results)

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I guess I noticed it on our two mile walk.  The one we did later that day, not the two mile hike up a steep incline we did that morning.  My knee wasn’t bothering me in the least.  Ok, first of all, no one can ever tell me again that one needs lots of protein from animal sources for energy and working out.  Goodness, we have so much energy we are hiking all over the place!  That has been one really great result of going vegan.  The other, is my knee.

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I hurt it when I was seventeen, so…a few years ago.  I tend to it with herbal concoctions and intermittent yoga to keep  it at bay.  The third floor apartment though was really doing my knee in.  You may have noticed that I have been hobbling around more.  This makes my back hurt then and I am instantly aged and grumpy!  Well, my knee hasn’t hurt.  And I bet it’s been two weeks.  So yes, we know that animal products create or worsen inflammatory issues like arthritis, gout, and other skeletal issues, but what I am eating now is really helping.  Between the two to four cups of homemade kombucha (glucosamine and B12) we are enjoying plus the quart of green smoothie each morning with the heavy dollop of coconut oil put in it, plus the nuts and nut butters in the smoothie and on bread, and the increased antioxidant intake from all these plant foods, my skeletal system is healing itself.  And that, my friends, is an amazing thing to report so early in this experiment!

Here are some tips for going and staying plant based:

#1 Start the day with a great smoothie.  For two people, put in 4 cups of greens of your liking such as kale, spinach, chard, collards, romaine, dandelions or other wild greens.  Add 4 cups of fruit, a combination of bananas, apples, kiwi, mango, peaches, plums, grapes, cherries, pears, and a good amount of frozen fruit to make it nice and cold.  Add a fat to make it bioavailable.  A dollop of sunflower or almond butter, peanut butter or coconut oil, or a handful of nuts.  Add spices like cinnamon or cardamom Sweeten with maple syrup or honey.  Make more filling with a handful of oats (a good nervine for pain) added in uncooked.  A good chug of coffee if needed!  Fill the container half way with water or cashew milk or juice and swirl away in a good blender.  Imagine that kind of healing power in a breakfast!

#2 When going out be prepared.  When Doug wanted to go to Panera and have coffee and bagels I put his creamer and cream cheese in my bag.  It isn’t dairy so it keeps rather well and then we don’t feel deprived.  Seem silly?  It’s not.  We get our time reading, writing, sitting outside enjoying coffee and bagels together, we just add the creamer and cream cheese that is healthier for us.

#3 Try new restaurants.  Gnarly Root, City O City, Watercourse, Leaf, just to name a few, are offering up creative vegan dishes.

#4 Get creative in the kitchen!  Doug and I have been having fun creating veggie meats out of the Vegan Bean Book.  “Chicken” made with chickpeas, wheat gluten, spices, and dipped in panko are baked and go from lemon chicken with pasta and mushrooms to burritos with lots of lettuce, tomato, salsa, and vegan cheese.  We also make “chorizo” using black beans, millet, quinoa, and New Mexican red chile (our staple around here!).  That went into a roasted sweet and new potatoes, corn, and green chili casserole with my homemade taco sauce and vegan cheese mixed in.  The fresh vegetables look so beautiful to me.

We are fluctuating between three pounds, down and up, because muscle is heavier than fat, and where a woman is in her cycle, and water and waste all plays into the weight scale.  But, we are feeling great.  All the beautiful fluids and fats and antioxidants are making us look a little younger even.  You know, I don’t think we are ever going back.

Two Weeks Vegan (cost, cookbooks, and the original nourishing diet)

 

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I was following what my friends were doing for awhile.  The Nourishing Diet, or way of eating (diet always seems to denote weight loss, but this was a lifestyle).  It fit our farm lives, fats, bone broth, nourishing whole foods.  I have never in my life felt more nourished than being vegan.  I am glad we went away from being vegan then came back so I could see the difference.  None of that after fat or grease or overeating ick feeling.  I feel like every cell in my body is being nourished as I consume a smoothie.  Kale, dandelions, or spinach, with apples, bananas, and/or nectarines, topped with frozen berries and a little maple syrup and coconut oil.  Oats (a delicious nervine) and cashews or almond butter or whatever speaks to us today.  The quart of nourishing juice revitalizes us and has to be more nutritious than any bone broth.

Doug has lost seven pounds.  All of our issues are less.  Not gone yet, but geez, it’s only been two weeks!  Less sinus issue for him, a lot less inflammation for me, minor detoxing (when we were vegan before we only needed a shower every five days, we never smelled), so a few extra showers and a few teen zits coming up here and there as we attempt to undue two and a half years of damage in two weeks.

I hear a lot that it costs more for healthy food.  I want to address this because a lot of people don’t do it because of this.  So, yes, an organic apple next to a conventional apple will typically be about ten to twenty cents more.  However, once I cut out all meat and dairy and most processed foods out of my grocery cart, you wouldn’t believe how much I saved!  I spent a lot on meat, especially grass fed, local meats.  Nuts are pricey, beans are not, organic orange juice is pricey, but we were buying that before.  We are consuming a lot of vegetables and fruits and whole grains.  And in the end, it’s cheaper.  We can’t just run willy nilly out to restaurants so we are eating at home a lot more.

I am inspired when I get into my kitchen.  I used to think I was in a rut before we fell off the bacon wagon but nothing says “rut” like “meatloaf or pork chops?”.  We are inspired to make vegan cheeses from creamy cashews and coconuts.  Veggie meats from organic wheat gluten (really, y’all, not all gluten is bad for you) and whole beans make a quick, delicious, protein and veggie filled replacement.  Dipped in panko and baked, covered in vegan gravy with mashed potatoes, you’d think you were back at the kitchen table on a farm.  And none of the icky, overate, too much comfort food feeling, just nourishment.  Salads, sandwiches, vegan pizza, or just fruit salad, anything we want.  We haven’t even missed meat.  If I do not have time to make something from scratch I can grab a vegan pizza from the frozen section at the health food store and embellish it.  Remember when the veggie stuff had so many ingredients and none of them were pronounceable?   Well, a lot of that has changed.  Stay away from Monsanto bought veggie products like Morning star, stick with Gardein, Tofurky, the smaller brands.  Just nourishment.

Here are a few cookbooks I am loving.  The Vegan Bean Book by Kathy Hester has great recipes like chorizo and veggie chicken plus a zillion more, and Thug Kitchen; Eat Like You Give a F*ck is the funniest cook book I have ever read.

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So keep up the good work, heal yourself and the world, kiss a cow, wave at a robin, and eat great this week.  Be nourished.

 

The Entertaining Farmgirls take on Spring

The password to get into the dinner party was “Strawberry Wine” and the guests did hope that there would be a glass waiting.  We did not disappoint!  The guests at Wildflower and Fawn’s popup dinner party were greeted with cold glasses of strawberry rhubarb wine from a vineyard in the Palisades.

Shyanne had the idea of writing the menu on the glass pane of the old door in the dining area with chalkboard pens.  It looked whimsical and illustrated the evening’s fare.  Lots of herbs would be showcased in our late spring supper.

Shyanne and I had a vision for this supper club that would incorporate local, organic produce, preferably from my garden.  Fresh, seasonal food prepared in a unique fashion to give party goers something different, something exciting, and a treat to the senses.

The first course was a cool, refreshing strawberry soup to go with the wine.  In a good blender combine a package of frozen strawberries, or other fruit, with a few cups of milk of choice (we used the last of our local goat’s milk), and a 1/2 cup of sugar.  Process than place in fridge until ready to serve.  Pulse one more time before pouring out frothy, creamy soup.

The second course was an easy salad with fresh greens, pickled eggs and beets (click for recipe), and drizzled with the malt vinegar the eggs were in, toasted pecans, and walnut oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  I had a loaf of homemade bread on the table too.  This course was enjoyed with housemade strawberry kombucha.

The next course was a duck egg frittata, eggs compliments of my good friend, Alli (who taught me how to make kombucha!).  The frittata was filled with eggs and fresh herbs from my garden, and grape tomatoes.  Eight eggs, 1/2 cup of milk of choice, 3 Tablespoons of herbs (we used thyme, lemon thyme, oregano, chives, chive flowers, clover flowers, cilantro, rosemary, and sage), and 1/2 cup of tomatoes.  Whisk together, pour into heated oiled pan and cook over medium heat until sides and top are almost set, without disturbing, then place under broiler for five minutes.  This was served with couscous and dried cherries with preserved chokecherry sauce.

This course was served with my homemade chokecherry wine.  How to Make Chokecherry Wine was my number one post last year so those of you who made it may want to know that after sitting on its side for twenty months, oh my gosh, it is sooo good.  Semi-sweet, dry, really good wine.

And lastly, the course we were all waiting for was Shyanne’s cake.  Shyanne took a recipe from the vegan cookbook I wrote some years ago (which is coming back into print) and added minced herbs and lemon.  She deftly minced lemon balm, lemon verbena, and lemon thyme.  There was a pile of herbs on the counter for garnish.  I asked her if she had put them in the cake.  She replied that she had put a little in.  “It’s mint, right?”

“Catnip.”

“What?!” she said in horror.  With her yummy lemon frosting and a cup of cardamom coffee, it made for a delightful dessert.

We so enjoy having various folks over to treat them.  Our next supper club is in August and will preview many fresh ideas from our garden.  Sign up early so you can be at the next supper club!  We’d love to entertain you.

Vegan Road Update (first week)

 

IMG_0705We were vegan when we got chickens. Their eggs tasted so amazing, pasture raised chickens, organic feed from our own spoiled girls. We hadn’t consumed eggs in over two years. Even now, I don’t know if those eggs affected us all that adversely. The problem was that once you open that door, you allow yourself to eat eggs at restaurants and at places. All or nothing.

emily and Flower

Then we got goats. Oh my, they were cute. We believed and touted and taught that raw milk was not nearly as bad as pasteurized milk. Never mind the fact that we knew, of course, that we are the only mammals that will kick the babies off (and send them off to slaughter) so that we can have milk from another animals’ boobies. But cheese, though…mmm…did you know that cheese has the same effect on the brain as heroin? Indeed, it is that addictive. A chemical reaction takes place that makes it quite difficult to stop eating cheese.

And then we’ll only eat chickens that a local farmer produced, only….pretty soon we are just eating everything because that is how humans work. All or nothing. We didn’t want to just go vegetarian, because the dairy industry IS the meat industry. We prayed diligently that we wouldn’t have boy goats. Their fate is not great. In larger goat milk dairies there is not a large community wanting young goat. You can imagine what happens to the babies. They just get disposed of. The girls become lucky, until they stop producing well in a few years. Milk cows rarely sit or lay down. Their babies are taken and become veal. Being a righteous vegetarian is incredibly hypocritical. We’ve been there. We were the spouting vegetarians unknowingly causing so much harm.

Well, that is all well and good but if you can’t see the animals suffering it is easy to convince ourselves that maybe the research on animal products causing the majority of disease is wrong! Maybe the animals aren’t suffering that much. Maybe….it’s easy to not “see”. So, we needed health to be our guide.

After we started drinking our righteous raw milk Doug got a serious sinus issue. Post nasal drip, choking, bloating, he seems sick. It got worse at night. Seemed to be linked to eating. Or sitting.  Or whatever we blamed it on. After one week vegan he didn’t have it yesterday. We’ll see what happens as we stay dairy free.

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Shyanne’s vegan lemon mint cake

Doug lost three pounds this week. I lost two. I have a pretty good figure so I won’t lose much more but I do want to get rid of the inflammation and circulatory issues in my body.

We walked each day. We need to incorporate a little more exercise into our routine. It’s funny, the healthy eating triggers more healthy habits. I don’t want to wear makeup or color my hair. I am more mindful. I feel better when I see wildlife. More compassionate. A deeper connection. I can’t explain it really. But I feel closer to the natural world. I haven’t needed as much herbal antidepressant this week. We just feel better.

It’s only been a week. We can expect to detox still. That can scare folks if they aren’t used to it but we know what to expect. You know, we are actually looking forward to it?

We had our fun, ate everything in sight, and are now seeing how just eating meat and dairy for a few years could so profoundly affect our health.

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Next week I’ll preview a few cookbooks and I may put mine back into print. We have started every morning with a smoothie with any of the following combination:

Frozen fruit, bananas, apples, dark leafy greens, carrots, oatmeal (grinds up, adds sustenance), honey, almond butter, peanut butter, ice, honey.

This morning we had a smoothie for two.

Add to blender, 2 bananas, ½ cup of oats, ½ cup of cold coffee, 1 cup of frozen pineapple, 3 Tablespoons of peanut butter and 1 ½ cups of cashew milk. Roughly, I just eyeballed it all. Just throw in what you love.

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Last night we dined on miso soup and fried asparagus with drinks as we talked about our days.

This is good eating.  This is a good life.

Gone Vegan

forks over knives

Last night Doug and I watched the documentary “Forks Over Knives”.  I tell you the reason we did it though, we knew what they were going to say, but we needed inspiration because Doug and I are extremists and we need passion to achieve anything.  Diet and lifestyle is a much argued subject and it gets confusing traversing all the information out there.  Most of the time we just don’t want to think about it.  Our ancestors just ate, can’t we too?  There is also much discrepancy on what our ancestors ate!  Meat was a rarity no matter what the Paleo movement tells us.  It was seasonal, or small, or for rich people.  And those rich people were sick and fat.

We knew this when we ordered bacon at a restaurant after being vegetarian, I for twenty-seven years, Doug for eight, and staunch vegans for two years.  All our friends ate meat.  They were fine.  My friend that convinced us to eat meat died of cancer shortly after.  I watch cancer come through my shop door almost daily.  I can see illnesses.  It is a somewhat rare clairvoyant gift that helps me be an effective herbalist.  I see heart disease, circulatory problems, I see problems in me and Doug now.  We need a change.

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In the past two and a half years since we began eating meat we have both obtained a lovely array of issues.  When we went vegan the first time Doug lost thirty-five pounds.  We had just started our rigorous farmers market season (eight markets a week) and we felt great.

We had convinced ourselves that it is a natural process, that farm animals are to be eaten, that we kill animals when we clear farmland for vegetables, that my body needed meat and B12!  Then I read the back of a bottle of kombucha.  20% of my daily B12.  There are a lot of sources of B12.  The meat and dairy industry make the guidelines that we all use for health, for our children’s health, for what we believe to be true.  We listened, and then we saw for ourselves.

pig

We were invited to go to a pig harvest and barbeque.  I had my freezer full of heritage pork from a local farmer.  We can do this!  We chickened out.  Turns out Doug and I would just sit there babbling like idiots, crying over the pig, or worse, try to wrestle him into our truck to kidnap.  I must admit that Doug and I are lousy meat eaters.  But we can’t blindly buy packaged, red tinted slabs of faceless meat either.  I know what goes on in slaughterhouses, even the grass fed, sustainable, local, blah, blah, blah cows go there.  Pretty horrific.

Anyways, I promise not to be preachy with the veganism, I wasn’t when we were before either.  But I will keep you up to date on how we feel and what we are doing.

To start this process, Doug and I assessed how we feel.  Doug has gained almost half of his weight back. He has chronic sinus and breathing issues since we began eating meat.  His energy levels are nil, his umbilical hernia is getting worse, he has digestive issues again, his memory is his most concerning factor.

I have gained weight in my stomach, uneven, not necessarily noticeable to the vast majority, but I know it is either bloating or fat which is not supposed to be there.  I have extensive swelling, my rings don’t fit, I get sharp pains in my chest, have breathing problems sometimes, and my knee and lower back often hurt.  I also am having problems with my teeth.  Doug and I both know that dairy leaches calcium from the bones but that cheese…ooh it calls to us.  Loudly.  My face is breaking out.  I have circulatory issues, frequent blues, and even more frequent headaches.  About 2-6 migraines a month.

market

This is a lot of really personal information but I know that it will only get worse if we do not wake up.  We see folks all around us with dietary and lifestyle related illnesses, issues, things we just call “getting old”, but I ain’t going out like that.  I still have a lot of life ahead of me and I want to keep my husband here too, both of us nice and healthy.  So, if you are curious or want to join in, follow along each week and see how we are doing!  Maybe it will inspire you to adopt a plant based diet as well.  Or, we’ll all go out for bacon.  We’ll see!

Use food as medicine.  Check out the documentaries Forks Over Knives and Food Inc.  It will change your life and your health.