Thursday, April 30, 2009

Essence of Flowers

Camas is blooming in my garden! A lovely member of the Lily family, (Camassia quamash) this blue flower shines in the garden. An important food for the NW Indians, it's still found growing in ditches, & available through the Native Plant Society.

The NW Natives pit roasted the bulbs (they tasted good when we tried this years ago) or boiled them for syrup.
The blue star form connects it to the throat chakra, also the solar plexus. Sabina Pettit in 'Energy Medicine' speaks of it aligning the Left & Right brain, & being helpful for learning problems such as Dyslexia - common in my family!

Sabina comments that someone may resist using their intuition, especially if they've been 'burned' in the past (this or other lives) - & may choose to become 'An IBM executive!' She says that the use of this essence might allow the exec. to paint watercolours after work :)

I've been thinking of flower essences, esp. since receiving the new 'Green Hope Farm Guide' last week from Molly Sheehan - wow!! Good work, Molly! I love Molly's definitions & processes - esp her Land Clearing exercise! Just shy of 300 Packed Pages - so much information in this tome!!

I have ordered from Molly, & corresponded with her off & on for more than 10 years. I find her essences full of light & power - though I've also made a hundred or so of my own. Hersperides Gift - a blend she made for students & grads. of a School of Healing, is one I feel drawn to.

With the recent Swine Flu outbreak (guess what - in an area close to a Factory Farm!! Were you surprised? I wasn't!) I've been eating a bit extra coconut oil, & found this article on the use of Homeopathy to counter the effects of the 1918 Flu outbreak! "Mortality rate of people treated with traditional medicine and drugs was 30 percent, those treated by homeopathic physicians had mortality rate of 1.05 percent." The main remedy used was one of my favorites: Gelsemium.

The source plant, Jasmine, is also used as a flower essence - Molly writes: "Jasmine helps warm ourselves & dry ourselves out." "God Spark" is another definition - "I AM centered in the Sacred Fire."

I always feel torn about making essences in the city - we have great water, but with the additives (esp fluoride) I'm reluctant to use even filtered tap water. In the past, there was a lovely spring a ways out of town, with a spigot by the road for community use, but the newer owners decided to take that out. Etc.

Looking at the blooming Camas, I think of a 'star' combination - St John's Wort, Jasmine, Camas, . . . . & have been thinking of calling a series of classes to empower the 'healer within' "Blue Star"

Spring is in the flowers, is it not? Link

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Garden Thots n Dandy Muffins

This weekend the Master Gardeners held their plant sale at the Fairgrounds, so I picked up some 'babies' to plant! After filling one flat, & loading that in the car, I returned for another go-round.
Several garden centers & groups had plants for sale, & I found some sweet treasures. The purple flower is an Auricula primrose, & the white, Mexican Orange which has lovely fragrant blossoms, & makes a small hedge! I brought the tomatoes, basil & pepper plants inside, to wait for warmer weather.

It was a grey day, good for a bit of digging! Last spring I put down a layer of cardboard & old cloth to shade out the grass, & throughout the season, my son-in law covered the 'bed' with extra dirt he removed placing stepping stones. I prefer hand digging to tilling; easier on the soil, & good exercise after all.

I have a D-handle spading fork, & chop the clumps with a long handled tool - which is good for making seed furrows. My beds have their share of 'crab' grass with long runners, & some morning glory - so those go in a special pile, to dry out before going into compost.

There are several beds surrounded with wood, I may leave this one simply 'mounded.' This corn salad (mache) is fun in salads, & self seeds, so begins coming up in about Feb.

I found a fun recipe for Dandy Muffins the other day on the fat of the land blog - utilizing about a cup of dandelion flowers!
You twist out the gold petals, & could add them to pancakes or other recipes as well! I want to try these on my grandkids (& have them help me gather the flowers) when they're back from Disneyland!

*Dandy Muffins*

2 C flour (I used 1/4 C coconut & 1/4 C sorgham, 1 1/2 C WW flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 Tbsp poppy seeds
1 C fresh dandelion flowers - just the gold petals
1/4 C melted coconut oil
2 Tbsp agave nectar
1 egg
1 1/2 C (or a bit more) liquid
(I used lemon balm tea; buttermilk or coconut milk are other options)

- Mix dry ingredients, breaking the flower petals apart.
- Mix the wet ingredients, & stir into the dry, spoon into muffin tins.
These filled a muffin pan plus a 3" baking dish - grease pans or put parchment paper or baking cups in the bottom.
- Bake at 400* 20-25 min, till a toothpick comes out clean.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day Challange -- help save our seed heritage

Happy Earth Day!

I got my toenails painted green yest (not terribly ecological - but so much fun!) My daughter & her family are going to Disneyland tomorrow, & she wanted 'Mickey Mouse' - so we went in for our ~ monthly pedicure! (mine's a tax deduction no less :)

Reading my Organic Consumer's e- newsletter today, I noticed an article on 'super weeds' that are becoming resistant to the heavy use of Roundup on GM crops - especially pigweed (edible! - but it would be pesticide laden in those fields) ~ 3 feet tall -
'In the face of the weed explosion in cotton and soybean crops, some farmers are even considering moving back to non-GM seeds. "It's good for us to go back, people have overdone the Roundup seeds," (Alan Rowland, a soybean seed producer based in Dudley, Missouri - who has shifted back to planting 'traditional,' GMO seed!)

Of course, Monsanto has an 'answer' at the ready - let's just mix Roundup with 2,4-D "well-known for being a component of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide which was used in chemical warfare in Vietnam in the 1960s." & Monsanto has already (2001) taken out patents for some combined 'super- herbicides!' . . .

Monsanto (& other companies) have been buying up the small seed companies around the world, which spells danger for traditional seeds & diversity of the gene pool! There are a number of small companies that still exist, a partial list is here - I've ordered from Seed Saver's (you can order from the catalogue, or sign up & receive a 'members' exchange list), J L Hudson, Nichols, & Territorial, Raintree, Horizon Herbs, Abundant Life, Bountiful Gardens myself - & enjoy trying unusual OG & heritage seeds.Link
I have been working on garden beds in this sunny weather, & planted a few things - some lettuce, kohlrabi, leeks, & my Broad Beans are about 4" tall! My almost 9 yr old granddaughter had a project to tape seeds from 8 plants on a piece of paper, so we looked through seed packets for likely candidates! The strawberry (alpine) were the tiniest!
It's also time to go pick more nettles! I found nettle seed in my lovely tin (a tall whiskey gift tin - a Good Will rescue :) so will plant some - probably in a large flower pot! One of my clients does hers that way, keeps her yard guys happier :)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sister Spinster - Nettle

Spring feels finally here - I picked nettles today! Found some lovely nettle recipes on various blogs yesterday, & wanted to try nettle pesto - yum!

My biologist former hubby has a lovely patch at his mom's (she's 93 & he's her main caretaker). They were growing in what was, for years, a chicken yard. When the chickens needed to be moved (city ordinance), one nettle grew back, & he laid that on the present bed - now there's a lovely stand several feet in diameter!

One of the 7 Favorite herbs Susun Weed describes in "Healing Wise," Nettle has a long tradition of usefulness for humans, gardens, & the world in general. "Know that this is what I am: this complex nourishment of sun, wind, soil, & water, transformed by my attention & my care, transformed into food for you, into milk for you. Green milk for you.
"I nourish your energy, your being, your sense of self worth, and every cell in your body. Sister spinster, great green nettle, will nourish you with the care & joy that a mother brings to her task." (p 165, Healing Wise - if you don't have it on your shelf, oh, do consider adding it!!)

When my daughter was pregnant with her second child, she followed Susun's suggestion (in Herbs for the Childbearing year) for nettle, alfalfa & raspberry leaf infusion - a small handful of each (dried) herb in a quart jar, cover with boiling water, cap & let steep 4 hours.
We'd usually each drink a cup first, & re-fill the water. She added a Tbsp of honey while it was brewing, & drank a quart of infusion daily the last month or so. The mix boosts the baby's vitamin K, & helps prevent hemorrhage in mom (the midwife was surprised at how little blood my dau lost after the birth!)

A tonic or 'daily' herb, nettle boosts the function of kidneys, liver, lungs, intestines, arteries, stomach, adrenals, hair, . . .

To make pesto, it's suggested you lightly blanch the nettles (~ 6 cups of loose leaves = 2 C cooked 1 minute in ~ 1/2 " water) You can spin them in a salad spinner (save the juice & drink it or add it to soup!!) - I just put them in a strainer, then lightly squeezed the last water out - they don't sting once they're steamed :)
I put several spoons of coconut oil into my mini processor with 1/2 the leaves,
a couple of garlic cloves, chopped, &
a Tbsp of sunflower seeds (pine nuts, walnuts, hazelnuts) . . .
& drizzled olive oil in thru the top. I did two batches, & added
a Tbsp of the raspberry vinegar at the end.
I didn't add cheese, tho of course you could.

A recipe on 'the kitchen sink' blog for Italian style pizza suggests a thin crust, & a scant 2 Tbsp sauce - wouldn't nettle pesto be lovely on pizza? With some sun dried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, & her suggestion of adding fresh arugula sprinkled with olive oil after it's baked (5 min VERY hot oven!)

I showed my grand daughters how to eat a nettle leaf raw - a trick Ryan Drum's younger son showed the class during our 'wild crafting herbs & seaweed' class on Waldron Island 20 years ago, & which Ryan mentions on his website.
He comments that young nettles are rich in"“free amino acids”. These are uncommitted amino acids in nettle sap, waiting for anticipated rapid growth in response to either temperature or sunshine sudden increases. When we consume fresh live (or barely steamed, 5-7 minutes) nettles we get those amino acids for our own protein repairs and replacement. Eat young nettles to enhance post-traumatic healing from wounds, auto collisions, surgery, and radiation treatments.
"I usually recommend 2-8 ounces/day raw or steamed young nettles. I teach patients how to firmly and thoroughly compress and roll raw nettles to mechanically disarm the stinging hairs. Nettle shoots could probably be dried for subsequent food or medicinal use."

The 'disarming & rolling' Ryan mentions is done by FIRMLY holding the leaf petiole (stem) in one hand, & with the thumb & index fingers of the other, FIRMLY stroking from petiole to leaf tip several times. (a bit of a trick to be firm enough to break down the hairs, but not to tear the leaf!) Then roll the leaf up, with the 'rib' side underneath, & compress into a 'pill'.
This pesto, made from nettles only steamed for a minute, would leave these lovely amino acids intact!

Viva la Sister Spinster!

If you have any clothes that contain 'ramie' - that's a nettle relative, which has been in use since ~ 5000 BC [Egypt]!
I always loved the story of the girl who made 'nettle shirts' for her seven swan brothers, imagining something like a monk's hair shirt - but no, nettle fiber can be as fine as flax & linen, & is processed much the same way, with the softer outer fibers 'rotted' (retted) off, then the remaining 'bast' fiber (as long as the plant is tall) are pounded & eventually fit for spinning.
'Noedl' - Anglo Saxon for needle, 'ne/net' is related to the Sanskrit 'nah' (bind), German: 'na-hen' (sew) & Latin 'nere' (spin).
& a final word from Susun: "The Tibetan Buddhist saint Milarepa lived exclusively on nettles in his retreat: & it is said that he became both green & enlightened."

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Tax Time

As a self employed person, tax time is always 'interesting!'

First, time spent pulling out the paperwork, the paper trail we all keep. Then pulling out the calculations from the previous year, to jog my memory on anything that I'd forgotten, . . . Schedules for 'profit & loss from business' & Self-employment, deductions (as a home owner, I can deduct that interst, & my donations - my dad would be proud!) Long form for both state & federal taxes.

One year I resolved to do my books monthly, & after finishing my April Chores, & put Jan thru April of the current year into Quicken - within a month or so that computer crashed! Misery! I keep a log with what I take in, & use my check book & CC notes for recording bus. expenses.

I was an employee for ~ 4 years while I lived at the resort - that first year I'd moved in ~ April, so had both a W-2 & the S-E paperwork - but after that, the simplicity of Short Form - bliss!! & I had a lot of freedom within that job, so it felt like the best of both worlds! In the early 70s, a Gypsy fortune teller read my palm, & told me I'd be happier working for myself . . . & for the most part, I have.

A young girl considering taking up my career in Health care asked if I wouldn't prefer being self employed?? Since I work with others in a clinic setting, rather than from my home or private office, she had a hard time believing me when I told her I AM self-employed! & that there are advantages to a group practice (8:30-5:30 receptionist, group advertizing & retreats, great office space & co-workers . . . ) I also mentioned the lack of retirement & health care plans (we can buy supplements at a discount, so that's my main 'healthcare!')

& with the new administration at the national level, I feel better about the intention on how these monies are spent - I do feel it's an honor to help co-create the world we want to live in, it's just been hard to keep that in mind over the last few years.

A few years ago I began an IRA, & enjoy seeing that account grow. For several years, I would calculate my taxes both ways, to see the difference an IRA would make in what I owed - & resolve to start one SOON. The resort is 'worker owned,' & we got annual dividends - I've wished that I thought to begin an IRA with one of those!!
When I finally did, (just after tax season) I was surprised to learn my first deposit could be $100 (very 'do-able!) & I chose a plan where I can contribute any time I want ($10 or more). I try to put $200 in each month. My goal for next year is to increase that to $300/month, & pay my federal taxes quarterly (as I'm 'supposed to').

I've mentioned IRAs to my co-workers, & the youngest began one! She has also purchased her own home within the last year, & seems to have a good business sense. For anyone who's self-employed, do look into IRAs!! It's so easy, & it's fun to see the #s grow! There are several choices in plans, find one that fits for you. Some just allow one 'lump sum' contribution - I like being able to put in little bits!
The income isn't taxable 'till you begin withdrawing from the fund - usually at a lower tax bracket. It's ideal to have a savings account as well - I know, in this time of $$ uncertainty, many of us are struggling to make ends meet!! When I bought my home, I was told to get a credit card to 'establish credit.' It's still my only card, & I pay it off each month, so no interest gets charged.

With my IRA, the money just putters along gaining interest, no fluctuation with stock market & such. I picked my S & L (across the street from our office) for my accounts & IRA, they reinvest in the community, hire locally, & last fall gave their usual dividends when other banks were beginning to struggle. They also have a local donation program, we get to vote on which organizations receive funds from the S & L itself (you can nominate ones that aren't on the ballot) At Christmas they collect blankets & toys.
My home loan is thru the S & L as well, so the interest I pay helps them fund other loans. A young woman who worked for Habitat for Humanity is now their PR person, so helps organize events, inc. the donation program. At a 'business after hours' open house, she commented on 'our' loans (her home loan is thru the S & L as well) fund other loans - & how much of the money stays in the community.

We have a lovely downtown, 'Oregon's Favorite Main Street,' & a recently organized 'buy local' campaign by local business people. I have attended a few events & put both my group practice & my harp business on the free website.

Tomorrow I'll start inking in the tax forms - & Monday 'top up' my IRA contribution (plus getting the ammended slip - I can contribute up to $5000 in this account per year). Might even get them sent off before Wed :)


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Sourdough Raisin Rolls

I love making these rolls from the Tasahara Bread Book!
I've found that shaping them & letting them rise overnight makes for very flat, hard rolls, so I shape them in the morning, let rise ~ 20 min & then bake! They are still a bit flat, but not hard!!

I sprouted whole wheat for a couple of days, & began a new batch of starter & 'fermented raisins,' as I hadn't made any for quite awhile. They are always a hit - my daughter esp. enjoyed them!

Starter: Combine in glass or ceramic container, cover & let ferment a few days on a counter:
1 C warm water
1-2 tsp sugar
1 C flour
1 Tbsp dry yeast
"You can also begin with some sour food, 2 or 3 day old 'rice, cereal, coconut (!) fruit, veggie or milk & mix with 2 1/2 C ww flour & water to make dough spongy. Cover & let sit 3 - 4 days, un-refrigerated" (Tasahara Bread book P:73)
I buy a small amount of yeast in bulk from our Natural Foods store - this will get bubbly & begin to rise fairly quickly if your yeast is fresh! Store yeast & the finished starter in the fridge.

Fermented Raisins - combine & let sit 2-4 days, un-refrigerated:
1/2 C raisins
2 C water (can be part cider, esp if it's going a bit fizzy!)

"if you make these rolls regularly, you can keep a batch of raisins going by using all the water & a portion of the raisins each baking, then replenish both." Refrigerate if it will be a few days before your next batch!

Sourdough Raisin Rolls1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
4 C WW flour (I substituted 1/2 C sprouted wheat, 1/2 C coconut rice, whizzed in my mini processor with a bit of raisin water, & 1/2 C coconut flour, & 1/2 C sorgham flour for some of the ww flour)
1 cup sourdough starter (or the whole batch)
1 3/4 C raisin water
1/2 C fermented raisins
1/2 C dry raisins
ww flour as needed

Mix salt & cinnamon with the flour. Put the starter on top of flours, & stir in raisin water, a little at a time to form a soft dough.
Stir with a wooden spoon, & add in fermented & dry raisins.

Let sit 20 minutes & replenish the starter (remove 1 C sourdough mix, place in clean glass jar, cap & store in fridge for next batch. This will have raisins in it, you can keep a seperate batch for the raisin rolls, or use it in any recipe)

Mix again, add a little more flour as necessary, & 2 Tbsp Agave nectar, cover & let sit overnight.

In the morning, cut in half, add flour sufficient to roll out & cut each half into 6 pieces (12 in all) Roll each piece into a ball, & place on a greased baking sheet or in glass baking pans. (I put a pea sized nugget of coconut oil in the center of each roll before baking. You generally don't want oil in your sourdough starter.) Let rise 20 minutes while you preheat oven to 375*

Bake 20-25 min or till well browned. Serve warm with coconut oil.

You can use the starter for sourdough pancakes & other recipes, but I find these rolls such a simple way to 'do' sourdough bread, & was quite pleased at the addition of the coconut flour!

I've found several desert recipes using the C Flour, but the usual suggestion is to use lots of eggs - & my daughter's just discovered she's allergic to egg YOLKS, so that doesn't work if I want to share them! I found a fun blog with lots of coconut flour recipes here - of course it is a desert blog!

I want to try her recipe for "Coconut Meat Balls with Coconut Rum Dipping Sauce!" I'd use Coconut oil to saute the meatballs & in the sauce - she doesn't seem to have discovered the oil!! But has some lovely ideas for using the flour, & the ice creams sound divine.
These remind me of my mother-in law's 'Russian Goop' - meatballs with lots of nutmeg, in a bed of sour cream & onions!!

The Coconut & Sorgham flours came from Bob's Red Mill - I got them in bulk during our field trip a few weeks ago. The sorgham is related to millet, & similar to corn in taste & texture - not GM (none of their products are!)