Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

SF Day Two

June 29, 2017

After a very active day yesterday, A. (six) slept in until nine!  Don’t think he’s ever done that before. Had a great breakfast at the Church Street Cafe, where the espresso drinks are labeled Fancy Drinks on the menu.  Then my brother’s son, Ian, joined us (taking the day off from work) to go to the Exploratorium.  According to Wikipedia:

The Exploratorium is a public learning laboratory in San Francisco exploring the world through science, art, and human perception. Its mission is to create inquiry-based experiences that transform learning worldwide.

It used to be housed in the cavernous—and very empty—Palace of Fine Arts, which was once part of the 1915 Panama Pacific International Exposition in Golden Gate Park.  Took my kids there many years ago.  Now it’s on Pier 15 along San Francisco’s Embarcadero.  We took a trolley to get there.  They run up and down Market Street, the Embarcadero, and Fisherman’s Wharf, and are restored vintage trolleys from all over the world.  (See these pictures: streetcars.)

A. had another pal now, and the two of them dashed around from exhibit to exhibit while my brother and I lagged behind, reading some of the text.  (The purpose of the interactive exhibits, of course, if to learn why something happens.)

Here are A. and Ian in a parabolic mirror, and (right) watching their slow motion video.  Then my strobe light photo, and Ian taking a photo of his.

 

Next, my brother viewing his stop-action photo, the water drop image of him upside down.

We ate lunch at the SeaGlass Restaurant there, the sushi chef (at left in this photo from their website) making a dish for me and A.  Ian got a nice vegetarian dish (which could have been Mexican, as he and his girlfriend had spent six months in Mexico City last year).  Forgot what my brother got, but it included french fries.

We continued dashing about, until the dissection of a cow’s eye, where we sat, upstairs, and which was very interesting.  Can’t even start to relate all of the exhibits we saw, but we were there for over five hours.

Then we had to catch a trolley back to The Castro to meet Ian’s girlfriend, J., for dinner.  First trolley too full for the four of us to squeeze on.  The next one, just as crowded, didn’t bother to stop.  So we thought to hail a cab.  Only two went by us, and they were full.  Finally Ian called an Uber driver.   Then we were caught in rush hour traffic (which is why a trolley would have been better, but the next one was in half-an-hour).  Were twenty minutes late for our six o’clock reservation.  Luckily they held the table at Pauline’s Pizza.  (Homegrown ingredients go into the pies & salads at this family-friendly pizzeria with a wine room.)  Ian and J. are vegetarians, so we all split two pizzas, one with a Salted Meyer Lemon Puree, blueberries, mint, and goat cheese (yummy!), the other asparagus, kale, and something else that was green (the Green of the Day?).  Plus nice wines.  We walked back to our motel and A. got to bed a bit late.

Had to get up early for the drive to the Oakland airport.  A. and I had our breakfast there.  Had our lunch (not much, as we were still full!) in Los Angeles, then the final flight home.  (No delays!)  What a nice week.

https://www.exploratorium.edu/

Attack of the Crane Flies

March 10, 2015

250px-CraneFlyThe crane flies have been all over the house and attacking the windows for about a week.  According to Wikipedi, Although crane flies look like mosquitoes, they do not bite humans. Adult crane flies do not eat at all; most adult crane flies only mate and then die.  The larva eat the roots of grass so they no doubt love the golf courses here.  Looked at old blogs — didn’t mention crane flies last year.   Maybe was too busy to notice.  But two years ago they showed up in April, not March.  This must be a warmer year, climate change and all.  (For all of you folks back east, buried in snow, notice that I didn’t say global warming.)

Spring

meadow 011
Imeadow 003t’s spring, and with the bit of rain we’ve had, the flowers (mostly alyssum) that I seeded in my “meadow ” are thick, as well as the volunteers in my vegetable garden, from snapdragons that I’d planted years ago to wildflowers, California bluebells (shown here), desert verbena with both thin and wide leaves.    Plus my Lady Banks rose, which I have tied up
to the back fence, is roses 007 starting to bloom more than it ever has before.  BTW, this website is good for identifying flowers and recommending ones to plant: http://www.cvwd.org/conservation/lush_book/lush3_8.html

But even nicer to look at than flowers are the bicyclists of spring, packs of svelte bodies clad in lycra, riding up or down Anklam, taking in Gates Pass.

Seen yesterday: six cars stopped on the main drag through Starr Pass (a road with very little traffic) as a small herd of javelina crossed the street.

Life In The Universe

This week’s lecture, Intelligent Life Beyond Earth by Christopher D. Impey, University Distinguished Professor, Astronomy, was killed dinosaursthe best!  Chris has such a great sense of humor. (65 million years ago a comet killed off the dinosaurs; unfortunately it missed Barney.)  You must watch the podcasts.  All are on this site except for this one, which should be there in a week:
http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
Here is the introductory spiel:

One question rises above all others when it comes to our place in a vast and ancient Universe, ‘Are we alone?’ With a billion habitable locations in the Milky Way galaxy, and more than ten billion years for biological experiments to play out, a search for intelligent life beyond Earth is well-motivated. Unfortunately, the single example of life on Earth gives no clear indication of whether intelligence is an inevitable or an extremely rare consequence of biological evolution. The search for extraterrestrial intelligence, or SETI, is more appropriately called the search for extraterrestrial technology. So far, the search for intelligent aliens by their electromagnetic communication has met with half a century of stony silence. It’s challenging to define life, and even more difficult to make general definitions of intelligence and technology. We’ll look at the premises and assumptions involved in the search, the strategies used, and the profound consequences of making contact.

He also mentioned that, according to the eminent physicist Stephen Hawking, “If aliens visit us, the outcome would be much as when Columbus landed in America, which didn’t turn out well for the Native Americans,” … He argues that, instead of trying to find and communicate with life in the cosmos, humans would be better off doing everything they can to avoid contact.

Scandalous Women

This week we discussed the movie Mildred Pierce,  with Joan Crawford, 1945.  Here is some of the editing that was done:

Mildredmildred pierceApparently the book would not have passed The Code.  So, in addition to the language being cleaned up, the panoply of screen writers (including the uncredited William Faulkner and Catherine Turney), changed the plot to a murder mystery, simplified characters to make them either bad or good, and killed off one of the “bad guys”.  It was a box office hit, and won many Oscars.  You can get it from the library or Netflix.

CSA

This is what I picked up at the CSA today: Beets, Carrots, Collard Greens (which I traded for more beets, as I can cook them and freeze them), Hakurei Turnips, Navel Oranges, Salad Mix, Sweet Potatoes, Swiss Chard.  Lots of veggies to finish before the weekend, when I leave to visit my brother during spring break.

Reading

You don’t have to see a picture of James Beard to know what he looks like, just read the descriptions of his breads in Beard on Bread, [They] should be eaten fresh, with plenty of good sweet butter.

Mostly plants

February 24, 2015

Picked from my garden yesterday: lots of arugula, spinach and peas.  Eight pea plants but after shelling the pods, only a cup and a half.  Not only is my refrigerator crisper overflowing (from the CSA greens), but my two composters are almost full from kitchen trimmings!  Am just starting to dig it into my garden.  But still have to wait for a few items to ripen.  Seems funny that I pulled dandelions a week ago and got a bunch of dandelion greens from the CSA (albeit professional dandelion greens) last week.  Pulled London rocket, a weed that is growing crazy around town with our winter rains – it’s also called also called wild arugula, and my garden is replete with domesticated arugula.

Made a soup, from a new recipe, with my peas and spinach, lamb meatballs, and lemon (did I mention that friend N had given me two dozen lemons from her tree?) but it was thickened with rice flour which gave it that shiny appearance mustardthat Chinese soups have that have been thickened with cornstarch.   Plus I added bland leafy greens  (yes – from the CSA) that I needed to use up.  Now I have three servings of a soup which I don’t like – what a waste of those peas.  Was it because of the lamb, the bland greens (which they told me today, when I asked, are a leaf mustard, shown here), or the rice flour?

Just found out that I can put my CSA membership on hold!  I should do that every other week.  Either that or I have to start eating salad for breakfast too.  Today I picked up bunches of Beets, Broccolini, Carrots, Purple Top Turnips, and I’Itoi Onions, and Navel Oranges (3), Romaine Lettuce (2 heads), Sweet Potatoes (3).  Making a turnip frittata for dinner, and a salad, of course.

Hawks

HeneryhawkI have wondered if my cat has been spending more time indoors as the Cooper’s hawk (which is also called a chicken hawk, but doesn’t look at all like Looney Tunes’ Henery Hawk, shown here) has been sitting on the parapet of my house, and in the large mesquite tree next to the back yard.  One it even swooped diagonally across my deck, under the ceiling!  But I think a cat is too large and feisty for a Cooper’s.  Yesterday I saw two hawks in the mesquite.  Spring mating, I gather.  (Too difficult to take a photo through the branches.)

Cooler weather

After a few weeks of temps in the low 80’s, high 70’s, today’s high of only 58° (because of the rain) is a bit of a change.  But heard on the radio this weekend that areas of the northeast, with the windchill factor included, would be 30° below.  My condolences to my friends back east! This from Saturday:

Hundreds of daily record lows and at least three all-time record lows were set as a frigid air mass with a connection to Siberia gripped the central and eastern United States with dangerously cold conditions. Friday morning brought the most widespread and intense cold of the winter to many areas, sending temperatures into the 30s below zero as far south as Kentucky.
http://www.weather.com/storms/winter/news/arctic-blast-record-lows-midwest-south-northeast

Community Supported Agriculture

February 20, 2015

I don’t remember life being so rushed before, even when I had two kids and worked full-time and did volunteer work, as well as entertaining friends.  Why?  It’s the CSA1.  I joined two weeks ago and I have never spent so much time in the kitchen, making salads and soups.

(According to the US Department of Agriculture, a woman my age should eat, in a week, 1½ cups of Dark green vegetables, 4 cups of Red and orange vegetables, 1 cup of Beans and peas, 4 cups of Starchy vegetables, and 3½ cups of Other vegetables2.  I’m going to be so healthy that I’ll outlive my savings!  But Michael Pollan, whose book I mentioned in a blog3, and who said Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants. would be proud of me.)

This week I gave half of my daikon with greens to the Japanese woman I work with, but she brought me two of the rice balls she made with the greens the next day.  Give greens away, they bounce back.  Yesterday I gave her two bunches of my own mizuna, Japanese mustard greens.  (Doesn’t help that I am growing too much mizuna, arugula, and spinach in my garden.  Replete with greens!)

I’ve frozen five helpings of soup so far (and shall shortly run out of containers), but still have so many bags of luscious organic greens that the crisper drawer in the refrigerator has overflowed!

Borrowed an onion from my neighbor (no onions from the CSA) but she refused mickey-mouse-sorcerers-apprenticegreens in trade.  Have been giving my two carpoolers arugula for weeks, but feel like Micky Mouse in The Sorcerer’s Apprentice.  (Can you hear the music as the greens flow over me?)

Another comparison would be like having a subscription to the New Yorker magazine.  It’s a weekly that should be a monthly; only shut-ins could keep up!  But at least you can read the current news and save the fiction for another year; I don’t have a large enough freezer for six weeks, the minimum subscription, of soup.  Note: the soup I’m having tonight, Coconut Cilantro Potato, is delicious.  You can check out the CSA website below for the recipe.  (I had salad too, of course.)

Life in the Universe4

Last week’s lecture was Life on Earth: By Chance or By Law, by Brian J. Enquist, Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.

Life on Earth is amazing and multifaceted. Ultimately all of life has descended from one common ancestor and has been guided by evolution by natural selection.

I took no notes, remembering only that it was good, and that climate change will create further evolution.  And that all animals have a bit fewer than a billion heartbeats in life (a hummingbird has a shorter life because its heart beats so fast – click on cartoon5 to read it better), except humans and chickens which have over two billion. Go figure.

heartbeats

Last Monday’s lecture by Anna R. Dornhaus, Associate Professor, Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, was Complexity and Evolvability: What Makes Life So Interesting?  She studies insects and is into complex behavior.

Humans are also involved in pretty complex behavior.  As a mathematician I especially like the Mandelbrot set (the set of values of c in the complex plane for which the orbit of 0 under iteration of the complex quadratic polynomial: z_{n+1}=z_n^2+c). Anna had some nice diagrams, this being one6:

Mandelbrot_set_image

Plus I was fascinated with the DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency which commissions advanced research for the DoD, Department of Defense) horse robot:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=40gECrmuCaU

Scandalous Females in Film

For those of you who are not interested in Mandelbrot or DARPA, I’ll note a few items from my Humanities Seminar.  I am large, I contain multitudes… (from Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself.)

First-wave feminism, which was active during the 19th and early 20th century, focused mainly on suffrage and gender equality.

Second-wave feminism, which started in the 60’s, was characterized by unruly women such as Roseanne, Maud, and Murphy Brown.  (Remember Dan Quayle vs. Murphy Brown, The Vice President takes on a TV character over family values?  Because Murphy, who wore masculine clothes, was an unwed mother.  She rejected abortion!)  Also Enjoli (remember its commercial song, I can bring home the bacon…6), Virginia Slims, and Mary Tyler Moore from the 70’s and 80’s.

Third-wave feminism started in the 90’s and was characterized by Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Emma Watson speaking of her HeForShe Campaign at the UN7, as well as Katniss and SNL’s Kristen Wiig in the female Hangover, Bridesmaids.  There is discussion on whether Beyoncé could be considered a feminist with the way that she dresses.  Then there are Tina Fey and Amy Poehler hosting the 2015 Golden Globes8.  (If it seems like I’m focusing a bit much on women in the movies – the class is entitled Scandalous Females in Film.)
beyonceFeministHAHAHAHA

1http://www.tucsoncsa.org/
2http://www.choosemyplate.gov/food
3https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2015/01/23/state-of-the-union-reading/
4http://cos.arizona.edu/connections/life-in-the-universe
5http://abominable.cc/post/56335701669/average-life-expectancy
6http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandelbrot_set#mediaviewer/File:Mandelbrot_set_image.png By Binette228 (Own work)
7https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Q0P94wyBYk
8https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkjW9PZBRfk
9https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Aw-wODbjmZI

 

Pumpkins

October 15, 2014

I especially miss the grandkids on holidays, like Halloween.  Used to go to Willcox to pick pumpkins1.  Now they’re doing it in Idaho.  (Daughter’s photos of herself and youngest in pumpkin patch, with oldest two painting pumpkins.)
lis & aidenlis & kids
This I don’t miss.  (From my daughter’s Facebook page.)  Luckily she’s a nurse…

It’s amazing some children survive until adulthood. Aiden fell off an approximately 12′ retaining wall today straight down onto his face. It could have been MUCH worse but there was a lot of blood and some temporary panicking about head injury…

This child is “Scarface” in my blog from April, 20132.  But he’s also cute (also from my daughter’s Facebook page):

Aiden’s teacher told me today that he reported to her that In Our garden we are growing tomatoes, cucumbers, and bikinis.

October 13, 2014

Went to Home Depot today for my almost-weekly trip for gardening supplies, and not only did they have a huge display of pumpkins and assorted Halloween folderol but they had a huge display of Xmas trees and lights.  Am thinking of boycotting them until after Thanksgiving (when I think Xmas displays should be allowed).

Tendonitis

Yes, I still have it.  But these are good for it:

>A two-hour lunch (Zona 78 – split a very good pizza) with friend B* on a rainy day
>An eight-hour day of work at the college
>Salonpas, a pain reliever patch that the tree trimmer (actually owner of the company – two others did all of the extensive work) recommended – took two out of the envelope and gave me the rest.  Totally marvelous!
>Tucson Meet Yourself on a beautiful autumn day (with friend R and her mother-in law V** – bought food that V had never had from many different countries such as Mexican horchata, Laotian eggrolls, Turkish dolmates, Polish pierogi (some potato, some mushroom), and French pear clafouti3)
>Lunch (Prep & Pastry – very good, as usual) and a movie (The Two Faces of January, a psychological thriller based on the 1964 novel, at the Loft)  with friend N

Bad for it:

>Exercise class at the Y
>Yard work
>House work

*B had good suggestions about water heaters.  First: turn them when you’re on vacation, and during the summer.  (Who needs a hot shower in the summer?  Who uses anything but cold water to wash clothes?  And the dishwasher heats its own water.  Second: if you have an electric water heater, buy a timer (like the one you put on lights in your house when you’re gone) and only turn hot water heater on, in the winter, when you’ll be taking showers, such as in the morning.

**Have to repeat story that V (pushing 90) told:
Her son had given her her first cell phone, with a cat meow for a ring tone.  (Think I want one of those!)  She wasn’t well acquainted with it and neglected to turn it off in church.  Of course it started meowing during the sermon.  Three meows, with many people looking around for the cat, before she could get it out of her purse and turned off.

Leif Erikson

Friends had their yearly Leif Ericson party.

Leif Erikson was a Norse explorer regarded as the first European to land in North America, nearly 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

Absolutely delicious Norwegian food [such as gravlaks (sweet and salty cured salmon), kjøttboller (meatballs), sursild (pickled herring),  and geitost (brown/red cheese) meatballs, but no pig’s trotter or sheep’s head], and lots of friends.

Then there are the toasts with aquavit, kind of a caraway-flavored vodka, 40% alcohol by volume.  Or other flavors; this year R made loganberry-flavored, mixing the berries and vodka himself.  People used to chug the shot of the caraway-flavored ’cause they didn’t like the taste.  Now people were enjoying the berry-flavored shots.  The toast recited was: “Din skol, min skol, alla backa flicka skol” (Here’s to you, here’s to me, here’s to all the pretty girls).

1https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2011/10/24/4%E2%80%9D-o-c/
2http://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2013/04/11/peccaries-and-plants/
3http://www.tucsonweekly.com/TheRange/archives/2011/09/22/prepare-your-waistline-for-tucson-meet-yourself

Lost Boys of Sudan

October 8, 2014

duanyAre your kids spoiled, bored?

By the age of 14, Ger Duany had wandered barefoot for hundreds of miles through his native Sudan, spent four years in Ethiopian refugee camps and fought as a child soldier. On one occasion, he walked for so long that all his toenails fell off; on another, he fled from soldiers by swimming across a river choked with corpses. But Mr. Duany, one of thousands of so-called Lost Boys left homeless by a Sudanese civil war that began in the 1980s, isn’t one to complain.  “I would not call it a difficult life, really,” he said. “I just had a lot of challenges at a very young age.”

Goateed and cat-eyed, Mr. Duany spoke of his life… Now 35, he has a wry, winking wit, whether discussing the size of his family in Africa — 63 brothers and sisters, the progeny of his father’s nine wives — or recalling his surprise at learning how much a typical American eats, and how often

“As soon as I got here, I was a freshman in high school, even though I had never really gone to school,” he said. “I only knew my ABCs, and could barely understand what my teacher was saying. But I knew that I was smart enough to learn. I knew that I could learn, if I could just go to school and not hear gunshots.”

This is in an interesting article on one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, in last Sunday’s NY Times, about a new movie, The Good Lie, which Ger Duany plays a character in, about Lost Boys in Kansas City1.

The Lost Boys of Sudan is the name given to the groups of over 20,000 boys of the Nuer and Dinka ethnic groups who were displaced and/or orphaned during the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005); about 2.5 million were killed and millions were displaced.

Tucson Festival of Books

rock bottom retainersEvery year I volunteer for the Tucson Festival of Books.  They send me many emails, most of which I don’t read, but I found one interesting, about the Rock Bottom Remainders.  This article was in the Arizona Daily Star:

The Rock Bottom Remainders, America’s most literary oldies rock cover band, will reunite at the 2015 Tucson Festival of Books.

New York Times best-selling authors Amy Tan, Mitch Albom, Dave Barry, Scott Turow, Ridley Pearson, Ray Blount, Jr., Alan Zweibel and Greg Iles, aided by a couple of ringer musicians, including drummer Josh Kelly and Albom’s singer/actress wife, Janine Sabino Albom, will perform a 90-minute show in the University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center ballroom to kick off the festival on March 13…

This will be the first official performance for the Rock Bottom Remainders since they called it quits in 2012 after the death of band founder Kathi Kamen Goldmark. Several members of the band, which played together for 20 years at book festivals and literature events, did an informal performance at the Miami book festival last year.

“We retired, so to speak, and the joke is now we are going to start doing the first reunion tour,” said Tan, the band’s self-appointed dominatrix, who dons a wig, knee-high boots, fishnet stockings and a whip on stage. “We’re going to be like the Rolling Stones or whatever those groups are that do those reunion tours. This is our first farewell tour.”

“As Mitch Albom says, ‘We’re such a bad band, we can’t even break up correctly’,” Barry added…

Albom recounted what Bruce Springsteen told the band several years ago, which has become something of its guiding light: “You’re not that bad, but I wouldn’t get any better. Because if you get any better, you’re just going to be another lousy band.”

“We were so bad that we were funny. But if we got any better, then we would just be lousy,” Albom explained. “So we’re ranked slightly below lousy, which apparently, according to Bruce Springsteen, is actually a pretty good place to be.”

The Rock Bottom Remainders will likely get together an hour or so before the March 13 show to rehearse. But Turow said those rehearsals will do little to improve their performance.

“Even new songs don’t get much in the way of rehearsal. … And then we get onstage and we flub,” he said with a laugh. “And even the songs that we’ve done a million times before, there’s an element of improvisation every time we perform. I never manage to come in on the right place when I’m singing, so the band has to follow me breathlessly, waiting to see when I’m going to start and what key my voice it’s going to be in that night.”

Those little imperfections are what have been the hallmarks and the joy of the band’s performances.

“ If you’re not bad and expectations are low, then what you have is a funny show,” Tan said.

According to the email,

Between them, they’ve published more than 150 titles, sold more than 350 million books, and been translated into more than 25 languages. The Festival is thrilled to offer the Tucson community and Festival guests this once-in-a-lifetime experience to see these literary lights perform live!

Date: Friday, March 13, 2015
Time: 8-9:30 pm (doors open at 7:15 pm)
Location: University of Arizona Student Union Memorial Center – Grand Ballroom
Attire: Casual concert dress
Tickets: Ticket price will be be announced in November 2014 and sales will begin on Monday, December 1 at 12:00 noon, Mountain Standard Time. Friend of the Festival members will be able to purchase tickets before general sales begin. Not a Friend? Join now!

White Pomegranate

tree 001dark plants 001

The first photo of the pomegranate and the Texas mountain laurel seeds, bright red, that I mentioned in a previous blog2.  The second of the cut pomegranate; the seeds don’t look red, but they don’t stain your hands, just your clothes.

I used to assign my son to take the seeds out of the pomegranate for the Xmas red and green salad (spinach, avocado, pomegranate seeds), so I didn’t stain my hands.

The other dish I’ve made with the seeds is a watermelon, raspberry, pomegranate seed salad with lemon and orange zest in the dressing.

1http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/28/movies/the-actor-ger-duany-reflects-on-his-journey-from-sudan.html?_r=0
2https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/09/23/decorated-skies/

Decorated Skies

September 23, 2014

clouds 009

White billowy clouds,
But no precipitation –
Decorated skies.

Rogue Theater

Saw the play at the Rogue Theater last weekend.  Clifford Odet’s Awake and Sing, about lives of an urban family during the Great Depression,1 was pretty good.  Go see it!  David Greenwood, who plays the grandfather, Jacob, is in my qigong class.  He was great, sounding like a Jewish patriarch, and no longer in my head as the Southern father in Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying, in which he was fabulous.

texas mountain laurelThen had drinks with friends.  He gave me one of their white pomegranates, and seeds from their Texas mountain laurel tree, which are bright red.  (I’ll have to add a photo after I cut into the pomegranate.)  Maybe because I’d been discussing hallucinogens in my last blog.

The Texas mountain laurel is called mescal bean by some gardeners. It forms a seedpod that contains red, round beans by late summer. The beans cause hallucinations at low levels. The beans are also very poisonous if the alkaloids within are released. The same seed coating that protect the seed from drought, however, will allow it to be swallowed and pass through our bodies without harm, in most cases.2

The friends also suggested that for organic food I join the CSA (Community Supported Agriculture)3 which has pickups at the old Y, which is also the home of the Rogue Theater.  This last week’s produce was bell peppers, cubanelle or marconi peppers, honeydew melons, okra, red onions, roasted chiles, roma tomatoes, summer squash.  I must think about that.  I remember when my daughter was in a CSA in Phoenix and had huge amounts of greens during the summer.  She had called to ask what to do with mustard greens.  I’ve never cooked mustard greens!  And it might be too much food for one person.

The Tucson CSA quotes Michael Pollan (who wrote The Botany of Desire, which I had discussed two blogs ago4), Eat Food, not too much, and mostly plants.

Rosacea continued

A few blogs ago5 I mentioned that my cousin had recommended argan oil with oregano oil for my rosacea. The guy at The Vitamin Shoppe (pronounced shop-ee?), when finding argan oil for me, mentioned that he thought emu oil for good for rosacea.

The emu is a flightless bird that resembles a small ostrich. Emu oil is taken from the fat of this bird during processing. It is used to make medicine.

Emu oil is taken by mouth for improving cholesterol levels, as a source of polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids, for weight loss, and as a cough syrup for colds, H1N1 (swine) flu, and flu.

Some people apply emu oil to the skin for relief from sore muscles, aching joints, pain or inflammation, carpal tunnel syndrome, sciatica, shin splints, and gout. It is also used topically to improve healing of wounds, cuts, and burns from radiation therapy; to reduce bruises and stretch marks; to reduce scarring and keloids; to heal surgical wounds caused by removing skin for skin grafts; to reduce redness due to acne; and to soften dry cuticles and promote healthy nails. Emu oil is also used topically athlete’s foot; diaper rash; canker sores; chapped lips; poor circulation; and skin conditions, including cancer, dry skin, dandruff, eczema, psoriasis, wrinkles or age spots. It is also used to protect skin from sun damage and to promote more youthful looking skin.

Emu oil is also applied to the skin to reduce pain and irritation from shingles, bedsores, hemorrhoids, diabetic nerve pain, insect bites, earaches, eye irritation, “growing pains,” and frostbite. It is used for rashes, razor burn, and nicks.

Some massage therapists apply emu oil to clients’ skin as part of their treatment.

Some people put emu oil inside the nose to treat colds and flu.

Emu oil (7%) is used in combination with glycolic acid (10%) for lowering blood fats including triglycerides, and low density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol; preventing and treating allergies; preventing scarring; treating headaches, especially migraines; preventing nosebleeds; treating and preventing cold and flu symptoms; and relieving discomfort associated with menstruation.

In veterinary practice, emu oil is used to reduce swelling in joints, prevent cracked or peeling paws, calm “hot spots,” and reduce irritation of flea bites.

In manufacturing, emu oil is used to sharpen and oil industrial machinery, for polishing timber and leather, and for conditioning and waterproofing.

How does it work?

Emu oil contains chemicals called fatty acids that might reduce pain and swelling (inflammation). There is some evidence that emu oil might work better for sudden (acute) inflammation than for ongoing (chronic) inflammation.

When emu oil is applied to the skin, it has moisturizing and cosmetic properties that resemble mineral oil.6

With all of its claims (cholesterol, aching joints, cuts and burns, dandruff, hemorrhoids, colds and flu, migraines…) emu oil sounds like the old snake oil…

1http://www.theroguetheatre.org/ourseason.htm
2http://www.plantanswers.com/texas_mountain_laurel.htm
3http://www.tucsoncsa.org/harvest-history/
4https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/09/17/plants/
5https://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/family-history/
6http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-825-emu%20oil.aspx?activeingredientid=825&activeingredientname=emu%20oil

Hallucinogens

September 19, 2014

Toad

A tiny  toad has taken up residence in my back garden, I think in the rosemary which borders my bedroom patio, but I don’t know if it’s a spadefoot or a Sonoran Desert toad, both of which come out during our monsoon season.    The Sonoran Desert toads are the hallucinogenic ones.1  Must look it in the eye; the pupils are vertical in the spadefoot, but the Sonoran Desert toad has golden eyes with horizontally elliptical pupils.  I see it out at night when I open the sliding door to the screen.  But the other night I saw something dark go under my rocking chair cover, and assuming it was a cockroach, pulled back the chair so that the cat would catch it.  It was the tiny toad.  How in the world did it get in?  I know that cockroaches can slither under doors, but the toad was the size of a large marble when it tucked in its extremities (although it looked like it was a poorly-made leather marble).  The cat wouldn’t have anything to do with it.

Couch’s spadefoots have a skin secretion that may cause allergic reactions in some humans.2

If picked up or mouthed by a predator, Sonoran Desert Toads will exude a potent, milky white toxin from their parotoid glands. If ingested, their toxin is capable of seriously sickening or killing potential predators.3

So I grabbed the toad myself.  It was wet (with poisonous secretions?), so after I put it outside I washed my hands.  Twice.

Sacred Datura

The leaves of the myriad sacred datura plants4 which have cropped up all over my backyard are covered with tiny holes.  So bugs eat only that much and then get high?  Do insects hallucinate?   No leaves have large bites taken out of them, like the tomato leaves, eaten to the nub by the grasshopper I missed catching.

Organics

My cousin had given me this web site5 to see which vegetables I really must buy organic.  (They list 48; I’ve listed only the first 12.)

Fruits and vegetables with pesticide residue data
EWG analyzed pesticide residue testing data from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration to come up with rankings for these popular fresh produce items. Foods are listed below from worst to best.  (lower numbers = more pesticides)

1. Applesapple

 

strawberries 2. Strawberries

 

grapes3. Grapes

 

celery4. Celery

 

peaches5. Peaches

 

spinach6. Spinach

 

pepper7. Sweet Bell Peppers

 

nectarine8. Nectarines – Imported

 

cucumber9. Cucumbers

 

cherry tom10. Cherry Tomatoes

 

snap peas11. Snap Peas – Imported

 

potatoes12. Potatoes

 

In my last blog I mentioned that I shall only buy organic potatoes from now on, because of all of the pesticides and herbicides that the potato field are drenched in.   But there are eleven vegetables and fruits that are worse!

Last week I bought organic milk and orange juice from Safeway (its O Organics™ brand) and from Albertson’s, organic eggs, strawberries, canned diced tomatoes, apples, flax seeds, red grapes, mushrooms, and, of course, potatoes.

Word of the Day

Fungible – (especially of goods) being of such nature or kind as to be freely exchangeable or replaceable, in whole or in part, for another of like nature or kind.

This from an interesting column in last Sunday’s New York Times, Useless Creatures:

…In some cases, conservation groups or other interested parties actually put down cash for these ecosystem services — paying countries, for instance, to maintain forests as a form of carbon sequestration. The argument, in essence, is that we can persuade people to save nature by making it possible for them to sell it. They can take nature to the bank, or at least to the local grocery. They can monetize it. (The new revised version of Genesis now says, “God made the wild animals according to their kinds, and he said, ‘Let them be fungible.’ ”)6

Flash floods

Flash floods predicted for the week were a dud.

hurricane

1http://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2010/09/10/getting-high-in-the-desert/
2https://www.desertmuseum.org/books/nhsd_spadefoot.php
3http://fireflyforest.net/firefly/2007/08/12/sonoran-desert-toad/
4http://notesfromthewest.wordpress.com/2014/09/03/family-history/
5http://www.ewg.org/foodnews/list.php
6http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/09/13/useless-creatures/?module=Search&mabReward=relbias%3Ar%2C{%222%22%3A%22RI%3A15%22}

Boulder

August 27, 2014

Tuesday

A day in the People’s Republic of Boulder (as it is fondly called in Denver).  Fist to the Dushanbe Tea House for their famous chai.

Denver Dallas 129The ceiling of the Teahouse was carved and painted with intricate patterns traditional of Persian Art. The teahouse ceiling was originally built, carved and painted in Tajikistan. Absolutely no power tools were used in the original construction. The work was crafted by hand exactly as it was centuries ago.

Inside the Teahouse, there are 12 intricately carved cedar columns. These, were sent from Tajikistan with the original gift. No two columns are alike.

Denver Dallas 130Eight colorful ceramic panels, created by Victor Zabolotnikov, grace the building’s exterior and display patterns of a “Tree of Life”. Each panel was sculpted in Tajikistan, cut into smaller tiles, fired, and then carefully packed to be sent to the USA. Once here, they were repositioned together by Victor, who was visiting to help with construction.1

Next a stroll down the three-block-long outdoor pedestrian mall when friend K picked up a few things.  Not a Target in sight.

Denver Dallas 134Then to Celestial Seasons (which seems to make maybe a thousand varieties of teas, mostly herbal, for the American and international market, including dozens of varieties of Green, Herbal, Wellness, Rooibos, Chai, Estate, Holiday, Sweet Zinger Iced, Serene Moments, Cool Brew Iced, K-Cup®, Kombucha, and Natural Shots Teas) for a tour of their plant, of course all mechanized.  Even a suction Denver Dallas 135lifter of large boxes full of small boxes of particular teas – the machine can tell by weight which tea it is to know which crate to put the boxes in.

In 1969, a group of passionate young entrepreneurs founded Celestial Seasonings upon the belief that their flavorful, all-natural herbal teas could help people live healthier lives. They harvested fresh herbs from the Rocky Mountains by hand, and then Denver Dallas 136dried, blended and packaged them in hand-sewn muslin bags to be sold at local health food stores. By staying committed to their vision, the founders of Celestial Seasonings turned their cottage industry into an almost overnight success. Today, Celestial Seasonings is one of the largest specialty tea manufacturers in North America. We serve more than 1.6 billion cups of tea every year, and we source more than 100 different ingredients from over 35 countries to create our delicious, all-natural herbal, green, red, white, chai and wellness teas.2

No photos were allowed on the tour, so above are a few of their teapot collection.

On to the Chautauqua enclave, which I had never heard about before.  This short definition from Wikipedia, but you can learn lots more from the website3.

Chautauqua (shə-TAW-kwə) was an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Named after Chautauqua Lake in New York where the first was held, Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day.

Historic buildings associated with the movement include the Chautauqua Auditorium in Boulder, Colorado.

dining_hall_nightFirst an early dinner at the dining room, which has been serving since 1898 (!) savoring spectacular views from the enchanting wraparound porch while enjoying classic American cooking3.  (This photo from their website.)

Then the concert in the historic auditorium to see Asleep at the Wheel, with front man Ray Benson, who at 6′ 7″ does dominate the group.  Funny that he’s a 63-year-old Jewish native of Philadelphia.  (Photos were not allowed, so this is from WIkipedia.)

Asleep at the Wheel is a western swing group that was formed in Paw Paw, West Virginia but is based in Austin, Texas. Altogether, they have won nine Grammy Awards since their 1970 inception.

asleep2
Eddie Rivers, looking like a good ol’ boy, with his extensive paunch and cowboy attire and hat (here on the right), was kinda funny, as each time he played a solo on the steel guitar or sax and got a huge applause, he’d look up surprised, as if he didn’t know there was an audience, and give a cute smile.

Ray was name-dropping like crazy, of stars they had recorded with such as Merle Haggard, the Dixie Chicks, The Blind Boys of Alabama, and especially Willie Nelson.  (2009 Willie Nelson and Asleep at the Wheel release “Willie & The Wheel” and earn a GRAMMY™ nomination for Best Americana Album.) Because the dude from Metallica showed up at Rod & Gab, I had hoped that Willy Nelson would turn up here, but he didn’t, darn.

But Ray didn’t even mention the President!  (Then Presidential candidate Barrack Obama joined Ray Benson on stage for a performance of “Boogie Back to Texas” at an Austin Fundraiser4: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2GJA8DgTPQ4.)

Wednesday

I felt like the only person in the entire Denver Airport with a book.  Made of paper.  10% on their tablets, 89% on smart phones.  (I’m generously giving 1% for books.)  The restrooms in the airport also serve as tornado shelters.  Lots of attendants around to help those with confused looks.  I would have to have gone down another concourse (there are three) to get to a Starbucks the guy with the sheriff’s badge said.  So I compromised for a local coffee concession for breakfast.  There are two terminals to serve all of the airlines, but I think that everyone has to walk approximately seven miles to their gate, one moving walkway after another.

What a difference for the Dallas Airport.  Got off the plane, crossed the aisle to baggage claim (honest – right across from the gates!), walked out the door and there was my cousin.  At this airport the planes have to taxi the seven miles to the gate.

Tomorrow I’ll talk about Dallas.

Chemicals in your life

My cousin M recommends http://www.vitacost.com/ for vitamins and supplements along with her frequent mentions of Costco for buying in bulk.  Also:

  • Food babe.com Info on toxic stuff in food and other stuff
  • Weston Price Foundation Info on nutrition and soy etc.
  • http://www.ewg.org/ Best site for sunscreens, makeup, lotions, pesticides on food list, gives toxins found in these products.  Aubrey sunscreen best in effectiveness and low in toxins.

1http://www.boulderteahouse.com/about-the-teahouse/
2http://www.celestialseasonings.com/about/
3http://www.chautauqua.com/history_movement.html
4http://asleepatthewheel.com/the-band/history/

Roads Scholar

July 19, 2014

Friday, July 11, 2014
I am in Coos Bay, Oregon, with my 8-year-old granddaughter, on a Roads Scholar Intergenerational program, Cooking With Your Grandchild Along the Oregon Coast.

How does food get from the farm — or ocean — to your table? Share in the ultimate culinary adventure with your grandchild as you join chefs from the Oregon Coast Culinary Institute (OCCI) for a hands-on approach to bringing fresh, local foods to your plates! Learn how to catch and prepare your own seafood along Oregon’s beautiful coast, and select delicious local produce as you meet local farmers. OCCI chefs offer their expertise in kitchen safety and cooking techniques as you and your grandchild create dishes from the ingredients you have caught and harvested. From blueberries and herbs to produce and seafood, your introduction to Oregon’s gastronomic delights is sure to be delicious!1

014Today we went crabbing, but stopped on the way to sample cheese at Face Rock Creamery and see how it’s made.

020Crabbing meant dropping crab cages, baited with a quarter chicken (a crab’s typical diet), off the side of a high dock. Had to throw the crabs “we” (my granddaughter) caught back in because one was female (can only keep males) and another was undersized (we had a ruler to judge minimum size).

019The woman (not in our group) fishing next to us with a line caught a seagull.

Then we went in groups to the farmer’s market to buy the groceries for dinner.  Afterwards we drifted down to the Cranberry Sweets Company, which has maybe three dozen different samples of chocolate throughout the store.  We overdid.

Luckily, the chef had purchased a few crabs as none of the group (14 grandparents + their 12 grandkids, both boys and girls, 8-12) caught any large ones within the two hours we fished.

When we were learning about cooking our dinner, the young volunteers in the class who were 028supposed to rip the bottom shell off the live crabs for the demonstration worried about whether it would hurt the crabs (!) so the college student aides took the crabs off camera and smashed them first. (You could hear it – we all squirmed.)

We usually made half of our dinners, the aides making the rest before we get into the kitchen.  (They also do all of the cleanup – what a deal!)

Dinner:
•Dungeness crab with cocktail sauce
•Baked salmon with compound butter (with orange zest and ground fennel)
•Garden vegetable sauté (zucchini and yellow squash)
•Pesto pasta (we made the pesto)
•Ice cream sandwiches (made with chocolate chip cookies the college students made)
And each night we adults got wine!

034Sand volleyball for the kids and our host, Jeremy Jones, Assistant Housing Director of the college, after dinner.

We are staying in the dorms at the Southwestern Oregon Community College, taking the classes from Chef Wendi Ginther of OCCI.

036Saturday , July 12, 2014

Blueberry picking today at Hazen’s Riverside Blueberry Picking2, a 48-acre farm with 5 acres of U-pick blueberries. The berries are almost organic; he only uses Roundup on the weeds.  We asked about birds.  He said that one year a couple thousand cedar waxwings descended upon his farm.  Nothing he could do other than run about, chasing them out.  That was not his best year, but he bought the farm for his retirement and he said that he does just fine.

We had to pick 60 pounds, total, for the pies, jam, and salad. You could eat as many as you want.  No one starves on 043this trip!

Then swinging on a rope swing and a picnic lunch.

Dinner:
•Caprese s’mores stacks (Caprese salad on toast, not chocolate and marshmallows, to the disappointment of the kids, but the cheese had some carmelized sugar on top, done with a kitchen blow torch)
053•Spinach salad with blueberries, chevre and citrus vinaigrette
•Grilled flank steak with citrus chimichurri (a green sauce used for grilled meat, originally from Argentina, which we made)
•Focaccia (made by the aides)
dinner2•Blueberry pie (which wasn’t cool enough, so we had to eat it the next day)
•Biscuits and homemade blueberry jam (which we got jars of to take home, along with bags of leftover blueberries)

 

 


Sunday, July 13, 2014

seas057
We had to get on the bus at 5:00am (!!) headed for the docks for a morning of deep sea fishing, Betty Kay Charters3.  It was way cold, the seas were high, and the sun never came out.  (This snap from a video they gave each of us on the last day.)  I was queasy, only the second time I’ve been seasick, and stayed in the cabin except for forays out to take photos.076

We had to catch 62 fish before we could go back.  Surprisingly, it wasn’t that hard.  This photo of BamBam (yes – it’s his given name), who helped all of the kids all at once it seemed, with their fish.  “We” caught rockfish (tiger, blue, black, vermilon, china), cabazone, quill back, ling cod, and perhaps others.  We had to throw back the yelloweye rockfish, as they don’t mature until they’re 20, and can live to be 120!  (147 is the record.)

080When we got back to stable land, the smallest 31 of our fish were professionally filleted, at incredible speed, and we took the 31 largest fish back to learn how to fillet them.  (We threw out the heads and guts, but could have used them to catch crabs.)

My granddaughter was at very low ebb as we cooked this afternoon.  Rather than mandating a nap for the two free hours we were given, I let her go crawfishing in the river behind the dorms, organized by our host.  They used sticks, string, paperclips, and pieces of hotdog.  One girl 079walked out onto a log and fell in.  Glad she wasn’t mine.

Dinner:
•OCCI garden greens with mustard vinaigrette (We’re getting good at whisking vinaigrettes.)
•White fish en papillote (with “garden vegetables”)
•Fresh baked rolls (made by the aides) with compound butter
•Blueberry pie from yesterday

Monday, July 14, 2014

090This morning – the Mystery Basket Competition.  Each of the five tables got: blueberries (surprise!), fillets of fish (surprise!), compound butter, lots of parsley, zucchini and yellow squash, tomatoes, and salad greens.

We had a half hour to decide upon our menu, 2½ hours to cook it for lunch.  We could use any other ingredients the kitchen had.  A bit daunting for me, as I usually use a cookbook!  Anything baked had to be done at 350°.

089Menu theme The Northwest:

•Parsley/greens salad with edible flowers (which the kids picked right outside) and a lemon vinaigrette
•Baked tomatoes with olive oil and balsamic vinegar
Sautéed julienned vegetables
Sautéed fish fillets with compound butter
•Wild rice pilaf
•Peach/blueberry crumble
(Champagne flutes filled with edible flowers for decoration)

093We were judged by the college aides by a 4-point scale on:
1. Utilization of mystery ingredients
2. Menu theme
3. Creativity
4. Flavor
5. Cooking methods – consistency and texture
6. Utilization of time (can’t be done too early or too late)
7. Presentation

Our team got 3rd place with 3/4/3/3/3/1/4.  (We were the last ones done.)  This was our group:

mystery basket
That afternoon Chris Foltz, Executive Chef of OCCI, cooked a Native American dinner for us: fish-head soup (which the kids just loved – hah!) with flatbread (fried, but not deep fried as the Tohono O’odham do here in southern Arizona), planked salmon (which he filleted with lightening speed), and foil-wrapped corn on the cob.  As we were at the OCCI classroom building, with no sand to stake the sticks, Chris had devised a contraption to hold them.

095108

After dinner we went to the loading dock for the cafeteria where he and two of his students did ice sculpture. He competes for the United States at the World Ice Art Championships, presented by Ice Alaska4.

130118

We were sent home with the booklet of all of our recipes, the video of our days, and a contact book with everyone’s photos, addresses and email addresses.  What a great week!

1http://www.roadscholar.org/n/program/summary.aspx?id=1-5G20C5
2http://hazensblueberries.com/
3http://www.bettykaycharters.com/
4http://www.icealaska.com/en/sculptures/artist-directory/item/foltz-chris-2012-2013.html