Transitions Are Knocking At The Door

 

Caldo Tlalpeno

Caldo Tlalpeno

Here in my area, we are close to being finished with winter, right on schedule for Spring Equinox on the 20th of March. For us daylight savings time started last weekend, ahead of many other place in the world were such is observed, throwing confusion into calling other time zones. Other places, winter has not finished its grip on the weather, the landscape nor people, no matter what the calendar says.

 

Lion weather vane by www.greensvanes.co.uk

Lion weather vane by www.greensvanes.co.uk

But then that’s March for you, it roars around like a lion, with winds, cold one day and warm the next, never seeming to quite make up its mind about it all. Maybe it feels as restless and unsettled as many of us do when the spring juices slowly start to flow, wanting to get ahead of oneself. I know it does for me. One day throwing the windows open to bring in the sweet smell of warm soil, the next shutting them and putting on yet another sweater. I have decided to stand firm and steady, keep eating according to the season, honoring winter yet a little while, make sure I don’t get too cold, that I get enough sleep, enough exercise, enough R&R, all the things that keep the immune system in peak condition. Perhaps an extra spoonful of Elderberry syrup in my tea or on my hot cereal in the morning. Plenty of cooked and steamed greens of all types, enough protein to keep the energy and body heat going and a sensible amount of grains. I discovered this recipe Caldo Tlalpeno a traditional Mexican soup on Pintrest because of the beautiful photography. The soup can easily be adapted to be more or less hot to taste, depending on what you tolerate. Traditionally made with chicken and chicken stock it can be made vegetarian if you wish, it is up to you. It has a lovely smoky flavor due to the Chipotle peppers in it. Here is my recipe for this delightful soup leaving you satisfied in every sense of the word. The dark greens will be great for your liver, which also likes a little bit of the sour flavor from the sprinkle of fresh lime to be happy. The hot peppers will help circulation on these last cold days of winter here in this region.

Cold frame with the cover openCold frame with the cover open But I have made concessions to the change of seasons. If I can, I now spend time doing chores in my garden and have readied the three raised beds. To me this is not work, it is time to just be. The soil has been turned, some compost spread, much to the delight of the robins, who hover, just out of reach, eager for what good tidbits maybe unearthed for them. The plastic covers are ready  and next weekend, seeds of kale, spinach and peas go in. Then the beds are covered to keep the heat in. My body is eager for some really, really fresh greens. Of course the wild greens will soon appear, the nettle shoots are ready, I have already been stung, soon the dandelion leaves and the chicory will burst forth. In protected, sunny spots I have even seen chickweed. It is so blessedly willing, tenacious really, in  growing, even when the conditions are still marginal.

Nettle

Nettle

For those that spring promises relentless suffering from seasonal allergies, now is the time to make an appointment with a practitioner to see what you can do to minimize your reaction once it really starts. For some this is the time to start drinking nettle tea or using droppers of nettle tincture. It takes a couple of weeks for this to build up in your system. A cautionary note here; when something is useful and effective, follow the direction, please. Using a lot more of any thing can be trouble, whether it is food, medicine or herbs.  There are also homeopathic remedies that can be very helpful in keeping the sneezing, coughing, runny, red eyes and drippy nose at bay. But If you have significant enough allergies make an appointment with a qualified herbal practitioner or healthcare practitioner to make sure you get adequate help. Chinese Medicine has wonderful formulas that can be tailored to the individual and can make it possible to enjoy the season, also outside. But the proactive plan ahead. I know this from years of experience

Allergic rhinitis as seen from a Chinese Medicine perspective is due to an invasion of External Wind Cold or Heat with likely an underlying Lung Qi Deficiency. It becomes even a little more complicated as one takes the individual’s health into account with the balances and imbalances. An appropriate formula takes all this into consideration to help the individual to be “strong” enough to weather this invasion of external forces.

It is an exciting time ahead, with changes in the weather, new leaves and flowers bursting out, new life in nests of all kinds. Take time to notice life bursting out all over again.  

Posted in Chinese seasonal Cooking, Cooking with the seasons, Energy, Food from the Garden, Healing Foods and Dishes for Spring, Healing Foods and Dishes for Winter, Health, herbs, Immune system, Qi, The Wild Garden, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized, Whole Foods Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Winter Slowly Grinds To A Hault

Venison soup with Anise, Juniper and Rosemary

Venison soup with Anise, Juniper and Rosemary

Winter has certainly been hanging stubbornly around our parts this year, though for the most part I am not one to  spend too much time complaining about something I can not change. Weather does what it wants, no matter how I might or might not feel about it. Actually it has been a real winter this year in my view, with pretty white covering the ground and the necessity to dig into the storage trunks for the long woolen underwear, socks and sweaters to keep the body toasty warm. To me this is an invaluable investment in comfort. It makes it much nicer to go outside, for a walk or to dig the car out or shovel the driveway if one is toasty warm, but I guess that is the Norwegian in me. In fact here in Washington DC we’ve had more snow than some parts of Norway this year. My cousin relates that Bergen, on the West coast of the country, has had little if any snow, while a few miles up in the mountains to the east, the heavens dumped a few meters. But then skiing is a country-wide passion. As our new Ambassador said, when asked if it was true Norwegian’s are born with skis on; “No not at all.” he said “What most people do not know is that they are actually surgically attached at the age of 2.” It is true that most Norwegians are outfitted with skis at about that age, plunked down on the snow and told to move along. One becomes adept quickly and also learns to love it. Which is as it should be, otherwise there probably would be no one living in those snowy regions.

imagesCAE35BW5.jpg

Winter trolls in the mountains  of Norway

Winter trolls in the mountains of Norway

But all kidding aside. The weather has also been perfect for all those delicious winter foods (click for explanation), so nourishing to body and soul.  There is Marrow bone soup, venison soup with anise and rosemary, French onion soup, Norwegian cabbage and mutton, Chicken cooked with saffron and Cinnamon, Black beans cooked with 5 spice blend, Cod mock Bourgogne, Parsnips with Ghee and Cumin, Collard greens with pearl onions and button mushrooms and many other recipes you can find in the recipe section. These are foods that keep the internal fire going, foods that warm the right energies according to the views of Chinese Medicine and also help the immune system brighten up and run well.

Fastelavn buns

Fastelavn buns

Funny with weather, Monday our area was covered in a blanket of snow. Federal government was closed, so were the local governments, the  schools and the buses were not moving either. Don the warm clothes, hat and mittens and out and shovel, it’s good whole body exercise. Then one can safely come in for some hot cocoa and some Fastelavn boller (buns) filled with jam and cream.  There is always room to rejoice in a job well done. Fastelavn falling on March 3rd this year and being the three last days before the Fast is an observed tradition in the three Scandinavian countries; Denmark, Sweden and Norway. 

Sunday, the day before the snowfall, it was 50 degrees Fahrenheit here and I had the urge to go out to say hello to the few crocuses and snowdrops that had stuck their head above ground. They were there to enjoy the sunny skies and balmy temperatures. Their enthusiastic growing gave me an urge to get my fingers dirty and I decided to turn the soil in the raised beds right then. Nothing makes me happier than to get my fingers and nails dirty in clean soil. As soon as the ground is really workable, I will sow seeds for spinach, kale and peas, early crops and stretch plastic over to keep the seeds happy. But before that I have to pull out all the thieving roots from bushes and trees nearby, who also love the compost rich soil in these beds. Otherwise the roots will strangle the little seedlings that come up.  After that it is just to wait till the last snow(s) pass and we will be in business preparing for spring. The snow drops and crocuses will be fine under the blanket of snow, it will shield them from the freezing temperatures which do much greater harm. Soon spring will start in earnest.

Reminding the snowbabies it is time for bed. (a 1930s illustration)

Reminding the snow babies it is time for bed. (a 1930s illustration)

 

 

Posted in Chinese seasonal Cooking, Cooking with the seasons, Dinner, Energy, General, Healing Foods and Dishes for Winter, Health, Herb use, Immune system, Lunch, Medicinal and Herbal Cooking Wines and Vinegars, Qi, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Whole Foods Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The January Blahs And A Way To Make it Sparkle

Portobello Mushroom soup with Norwegian goat cheese

Portobello Mushroom soup with Norwegian goat cheese

In our neck of the woods has gotten quite cold even for nordic standard, though I mostly take that in stride. Put on the wool long John’s and wool socks and if you are allergic, put some silkies or cotton underneath. Layers and layers of sensible natural fibers that breathe, is the trick, no matter what you choose. Then go out there and get some fresh air. There is an old Norwegian saying “There is no bad weather, only  clothing that is appropriate”. In England they say; “If you don’t go outside in the rain, you will never go outside”.

DC street in snow

DC street in snow

January is also the month that our Norwegian Ladies Group here in the Washington metro area has it’s monthly meeting at the Embassy Residence and on Thursday we gathered there to meet the new Ambassador Kåre R. Aas and to meet each other and sample some new innovative dishes by the brand new Chef Sondre Risvoll. Embassies rotate young outstanding chefs yearly, as the art of food has become one of the many interesting cultural things they want to showcase. The previous chef at the Embassy, Simon Idsø left last fall and I hear has become one of the chefs at the Royal Palace in Oslo, a nice step up from the Embassy here in Washington.

We have been extremely lucky again with the Ambassador Norway has sent to the US. Ambassador Aas who presented his credentials last September, has already had a distinguished career. He is a charming and affable man and was the perfect host to the many ladies who came to the meeting. The Embassy is located right across from the Observatory and the Residence of the Vice President on Massachusetts Ave. is currently under renovation. The Ambassador is temporarily quartered in a large grand home of similar age which provided a lovely backdrop for us.

Ptarmigans in winter

Ptarmigans in winter

All the food they make for us is delightful, but there is always one dish that particularly catches one’s fancy and this time it was the mushroom soup. It was created by Chef Risvoll and it was a big hit. It was clear it was a mushroom soup and and that it had Norwegian goat cheese (gjetost) in it, which is a little unusual to find used in a recipe like this. Norwegian goat cheese, brown and sweet is traditionally used on bread and butter for breakfast and lunch, though it also is sometimes be used as flavoring in sauces for game and meatballs. And truth be told, I have seen my son-in-law and my grand kids who did not grow up with it, lovingly pair gjetost with English gammon, hot English mustard and even peanut butter, all of which to me is sacrilegious. “Better them than me” I say with a smile. But everything moves forward and changes, doesn’t it.

We are nearly at the end of January, winter will still be with us for a while. But  the weather will continue to be undecided as it often is here. Days are lengthening and the day before the deep freeze hit it was actually warm enough to pull two weeds. In the next three weeks or so I will clip down the plants I left standing because of their seed heads, now eaten by the birds and other small creatures who need the food. By the end of February the snow drops will be poking their heads out of the ground. The Witch Hazel is eagerly preparing it russet dress to put a sparkle in the day for you. Ever so slowly we will be moving towards warmer weather. But, there are still a lot of wonderful healthy, tasty winter foods to be enjoyed. I just read an interesting health article yesterday which I will talk about next week. It is about the importance of moving to stay healthy. There was also an article about a homemade cereal I want to try. So get up and move, set the timer to remind you hourly to do so. then move around. Whether you are at work at a desk on at home, reading or just sitting, moving a lot and often  during the day promotes better physical and mental health. Put on some music and move with the beat.

Posted in Celebration, Cooking with the seasons, Dinner, Foraging, Healing Foods and Dishes for Fall, Healing Foods and Dishes for Winter, Lunch, The Wild Garden, Traditional Chinese Herbal Medicine, Vegetarian, Whole Foods Nutrition | Leave a comment

A Fresh New Year Begins

My last few days in England had arrived and I decided to spend a whole afternoon in Hay-on-Wye, which is as you may know in Wales. It is one of the friendliest little towns I have ever visited anywhere, just sit down at a cafe or stop to gaze into a shop window, you are bound to strike up a conversation with someone. It may be a short conversation or it may be a

Homity Pie by frugalqueen.co.uk

Homity Pie by frugalqueen.co.uk

 

long, far reaching and interesting one. Always an adventure to go to Hay. It takes about 20-30 minutes to get there so I decided to be self sufficient and took the local bus from Peterchurch just over the hill in the Golden Valley, 10 minutes away. My daughter  dropped me off at  a bus stop by the Kingschurch Pub, as it turns out a little early and because it had started to rain, I went into the pub to have a coffee while I waited. It was noon, 4 farmer sat at a table having their pint. All conversation stopped as I entered, they were staring at me expectantly. I ordered my coffee, but knew that on everyones mind was “who is she and what is she doing here?” I said to myself; “Wait for it, wait for it. It’s coming, wait …….” and then “So you are not from around here then?” I told them I was staying in Tyberton, but knew it would not be enough. After a pause I went on to elaborate until their  faces showed they had what they wanted to know. One of the farmers said with a smile; “Well, we knew you were not a Kingschurch girl.” The ice was broken  and we had a nice chat while I drank my coffee. Then the bus came and I was on my way.

Booth's

Booth’s

It was a rainy and windy day, but my object was to spend most of the time at Richard Booth’s Books which sells only used books, the largest of many such stores in Hay. They have three floors with floor to ceiling shelves filled to capacity with books, deep chairs where one can sit and read in peace before buying any of them and also a nice cafe which offers an interesting and well prepared menue. However on my way to Booth’s I wanted to stop by one of the most interesting second hand stores you will ever find anywhere, owned by a friend of my daughter and son in law. It is really more like an exotic market with a long archway leading to a little courtyard with two stores off it,  all filled with colorful stuff, among them a Parisian bronze street lamp with three elephant heads holding up the lights. Becky the owner is every bit as interesting and engaging as her store.

Becky's Market place

Becky’s Market place

I had just finished a wonderful book; “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by British author Mary Ann Shaffer and I wanted to find other similar books. It was just to dig in. Of course one gets hungry at some point, even sitting still and reading and I set my stack of books aside and went to the cafe. On the menu was Homity Pie served on a bed of steamed kale with baked onion slices drizzled with  a slightly spicy cream sauce, a fitting winter meal for a cold and blustery day. I ordered this with a glass of Valencia, a lovely smooth Spanish white wine. Homity pie is a potato and/or leek pie to which other vegetables and even some sizzling bacon can be added. A tasty and filling country meal. These were made in portion sized Quiche or pie pans. The pastry can be made with a whole wheat or white flour crust. Once I am in my own kitchen again I will make it and add it to the recipe section. Here is a homity pie recipe from a BBC food program. I’ll keep you posted.

Booth's Cafe

Booth’s Cafe

By 4pm it was getting darker outside. It is January. British busses are always very precise and since it was still raining I wanted enough time to be able to shelter if it got too bad.   When I got to the bus stop a man was there waiting and before I knew it we were in deep conversation about terrible bus stops, problems with traffic, community leadership leading to politics, on  to  socioeconomic issues in europe, the European Union. Then a jump to languages, leading to migration of people in the past and present, to marauding Vikings and back to languages. By that time we were back in Peterchurch and as I got off the bus the man called after me “adjøda” (goodby) in good Norwegian.

Posted in Cooking with the seasons, Healing Foods and Dishes for Fall, Healing Foods and Dishes for Winter, Health, Herb use, herbs, Lunch, Traavelling, Uncategorized, Vegetarian, Whole Foods Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy New Year To Everyone

I have a confession to make dear readers. Last Friday my two oldest grandsons had brought home a brace of Pheasants. It came about this way. As you may have gathered I am spending the holiday with my family in the countryside and with it comes countryside activities. The two boys had been hired as beaters for a proper English pheasant shoot not too far away, had worked hard all day walking through brambles for miles and miles, while beating about the bushes as they went. Part of the payment was this brace they brought home. imagesZADK5S55They had worked as beaters twice before this season, so this time my daughter was not overly eager to deal with  the plucking and cleaning and cooking. I had plucked birds once before, in my early twenties, before helpful Youtube videos show you how.  A cousin had sent my mother 3 solidly frozen ptarmigans on a plane with a willing passenger who had to carry them on his lap, all the way from Kirkenes to Oslo. In those days freezing something meant hanging them on nails outside in the winter and they would freeze nearly instantly in the subzero temperatures.

Ptarmigans in winter

Ptarmigans in winter

On this particular day, I came home from an evening shift at the hospital and found 3 unfrozen birds in the sink with a note saying they needed plucking. Mom had started the job, then lost heart and had gone to bed and was fast asleep. My thoughts were not too charitable I have to confess. My mother had grown up in Northern Norway in a fisherman’s family who got their daily bread from the land and the sea.  So here I was, late evening having no idea what I was doing, with feathers and down flying into my nose and clinging to everything. I was not feeling like a happy camper. But as my granddaughter, 12, so wisely said when I told her the story; “You just get on with it then”. So I offered to deal with the pheasants and to my great relief there are now so many helpful websites describing the process of plucking, that while taking a bit of time it was not

Parsnips with cumin and cilantro

Parsnips with cumin and cilantro

that hard. This was good food, free food and I wanted to make a hearty country meal for my family. After all is said and done, I cooked them with a sausage, onion, apple, cranberry, herb stuffing, under a slices of thick English bacon in a mix of red wine and broth. Roast Pheasant. Low in calories; “No”, but it is cold here. The rest is described on the recipe page. It is a similar process I would have used for reindeer and ptarmigan and quite simple really, no real measurements needed. I served  it all with parsnips and cumin (0r potatoes), a green vegetable, a salad perhaps and homemade gravy from the pan juices. It was such a pleasure to see the happy faces as they savored the meal. Not a morsel left on any plate.

wf farmAnd now for my confession. I finished the roasting the pheasants, the plucking had taken a bit of time and we ended up eating late. By the time it was done, there was no way I could keep the troops from digging in immediately. Therefore I ended up borrowing the picture at the top from the internet. Besides there had been no string left when I needed to truss the legs and I had to invent a way to skewer them together, which made it all  look a bit strange. Just imagine sizzling bacon on top. Necessity is the mother of invention.

Happy New Year to everyone. May 2014 be good year for you.

Posted in Celebration, Cooking with the seasons, Dinner, Dishes for specific conditions, Healing Foods and Dishes for Winter, Health, Herb use, herbs, Whole Foods Nutrition | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Happy Christmas and Happy Solstice

Our coouse 2012okie h

Our cookie house 2012

Once again I am spending Christmas in England with my daughter and her family. Preparations are in full swing, house is decorated, but it doesn’t look like we will have a white Christmas however. I is snowing in the Welsh mountains a mere 12 miles further to the west and if we drive up to the ridge, we can at least see some.  In the end it is the atmosphere inside that counts. Yesterday I gathered bundles of evergreens from the surrounding property. My daughter was busy finishing a beautiful weathervane that will be a present for someone,  a pair of deer. The stag standing there proudly, the king of the Glen, with his doe, ready to sound the alarm at first sign of danger. My grand kids had their last day of school before Christmas break. 

The dogs, Texas and Riley, still a puppy really,  love any excursion on a moments notice. It was just to don the tall rubber boots, put on a warm jacket, grab the clippers and work gloves and set out. The sun, as on most days, rose pale and without warmth in the sky, the grass wet from last nights rain, there is a chill in the air. It is after all the shortest day of the year and winter has officially arrived.

Gathering mistletoe

Gathering mistletoe

There are no pine or fir trees growing on the property, but across one of the fields there are plenty of holly trees. Across another field is a fallen tree with huge masses of mistletoe, full of ripe plump white berries growing on it. No need to climb, just snip large bundles of them so one can hang several bouquets around the house to make sure one gets one’s Christmas kisses. Flinders the cat joined us on our walk, keeping us company, while chattering away about this and that as we wander.It is necessary to answer. Up the lane, through a gate,  then through a grove of tees, down by the pond where the  swans live, there are evergreens of various types, just clip as much as you want or can carry.  The house will smell good and the green remind us that nature’s cycle promises a new growing season once the weather warms again in the spring. 

Flinders the chatty cat

Flinders the chatty cat

 

 We are about to make a Pepperkake house, a tradition started by my mother. This year I have smartened up and made a cardboard frame for it, which will make assembly much easier. Pepperkake is the European version of gingerbread, slightly lighter and baked somewhat thinner that gingerbread, making a crisp cookie. Instead of brown sugar one uses Lyle’s golden syrup. I make the pepperkake dough, my granddaughter rolls the dough out and we bake it together. Then anyone can join in to decorate the house with a little yard.

Last evening, being Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year, we went to a solstice party. When everyone had arrived, we donned our coats, took our lit candles and walked down to one of the ancient oaks, a tree that has stood there for centuries literally. Once it was apparently called a hanging tree. It is some 6-7 feet in diameter. It stands there in the shadow of old Madley church  which is from the 6th century. Two venerable places that have witnessed a great deal of history in this area so close to Wales. We danced around the tree to beautiful music under a clear and starry sky, then wished each other happy solstice and Happy Christmas. Today the Christmas service was held in old Tyberton church, dating back some 300 years. The vicar, who hosted last evenings solstice party has made the service interactive and has the children participating with gusto. A lovely little church filled with atmosphere and cheerful people happy to see each other.

So happy Christmas to all of you as well.

Check recipe listing for other holiday delectables

Turkey for two

Fresh cranberry relish

 

 

 
Parsnips with cumin and cilantro

Parsnips with cumin and cilantro

Greens with Shiitake mushrooms and garlic

Greens with Shiitake mushrooms and garlic

 

 

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Are Sugar Plums Dancing Yet?

With preparations in full swing these days, no matter which tradition you celebrate, or perhaps even just to be nice, don’t forget your little doggie or cat friend. I have several friends who happen to be dogs and I decided to make something nice for them for the holidays, Fido’s Christmas cookies. There is little Dora who wags her whole body when we meet, Finn and Mo who know the sound of my car, Texas who will rush at me with her ball the minute I get there and Riley who doesn’t know yet that we’ll make great friends. I am glad he is there, since Spider, my “fifth grandchild”, left last Christmas to run across the big fields in the sky. I will also miss my friends Buddha, the single minded one and Pia whose permanent place was in the kitchen doorway. These three have also gone to the sunny fields in the sky.

There are many recipes around  for cats and dogs. I found the basic recipe in Epicurious, but as i often do made a couple of substitutions. You may also want to check out the book The Whole Pet Diet. But I chose this recipe today, since it can be modified a couple of ways. Before you make it, you should probably know if the dog you intend them for has any dietary challenges. Dogs are increasingly diagnosed with the same illnesses people are. Check out the book Foods Pets Die For or check out Companion Animals. This should not come as a surprise. If you think our people food industry is filled with processed food, the pet food industry is worse.

Spider and Texas

Spider and Texas

Normally I would never use such a large percentage of grain in a dogs food, but since I needed to travel with a bag of these treats, I decided to make something that would not spoil quickly. Keep in mind this is a treat handed out a bit sparingly and in consideration of the overall amount of food that animal is fed. A dog has no business getting fat, unless it doesn’t get enough exercise, is fed too much or handed the keys to the refrigerator. An overweight dog or cat will become ill more quickly and will incur greater vet expenses. No difference from people. And with an eye to health, I will make food for any pet from healthy, preferably organic sources, just like I do for myself. For ideas on Cat treats, more treats check these sites out.

Coconut covered sugar plums

Coconut covered sugar plums

Well people have sugar plums dancing in their dreams too. The other day I was reminded of something I used to make for my family at Christmas. As you know by now, I am not a fan of lots of sugar, its too overwhelming for my palate, but I like dried fruits. I received an email from Learning Herbs with a recipe for what they called Sugar Plums, I used to simply call them fruit balls, but they were a mix of shredded dried fruits, perhaps some crushed nuts, some honey or maple syrup and some warming spices and may be even a tablespoon or two of brandy (Hm!! I have that Plum Brandy I made earlier this fall). I used to roll them in a little unsweetened shredded coconut, some cocoa, or drizzled a little chocolate over them. At learning Herb they even used some orange zest and that sounds just yummy. Fruit balls by any name are delicious and very easy to make and of course you can adapt the recipe to your taste.

Plum Brandy

Plum Brandy

 

 

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Are You Ready?

Or are you at this point rushing around to get ready  for Thanksgiving like a chicken with its head cut off? I beg you, don’t forget to breathe. Rushing around  without taking time to breathe, and you’d be surprised how we can manage to limit our breathing when we are stressed, worried and afraid can literally make you ill and also make complicated relationships even more complicated. So have that cup of tea, sit still and do some Yoga breathing to calm your nerves and put all the things you still need to do in perspective. This is the kind of breathing technique that can also be used in the car, while in a parked or anywhere else you can grab a moment of silence and calm.

So thanksgiving is happening this week. Myself I am going to an international sharing Thanksgiving early in the afternoon and will bring Surkål as my Norwegian contribution. Then on to a proper sit down Thanksgiving with friends. But no matter what you do, spend it with friends and/or family or alone, make it a special day.  If you are by yourself invite someone in or celebrate yourself. You deserve it.

I saw an interesting recipe for brussels sprouts a while ago and tried it, yes I did fiddle with it a little and it was good.  Here is the recipe.  I thought I would share with you the recipes I have listed over these last two years, which will give you some choices and options for your own table. Here they are.

Fresh cranberry relish

Fresh cranberry relish

 

 

In any event the most blessed of Thanksgiving on you and your family.

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It Needs To Be Said

The other day a friend told me about an article she had read in Aftenposten, Norway’s largest newspaper, about The lonely elderly. (I have translated it for you here and you should be able to click on the link and download the Word Document)  The writer Ole Bjøralt, who is a commentator for Aftenposten and who just happens to be 80 himself is of course in a prime position to say what he says. However, depression is not unique to the elderly, it happens to individuals of any age.  I thought this was a particularly good time of year to bring it up, since the approaching holidays can be very hard for many who for whatever reason feel they have nothing to look forward. They may not have any family around or any family at all or feel they have friends to reach out to. It is a time of year they may feel that everyone else around them are happy, just not they.

Depression is part of the group of illnesses involving the mind. It is an illness that has often been looked upon as something of a curse or affliction that people felt they needed to hide, perhaps even looked upon as a weakness by others. Most people will know this is just not true, it is an illness that can and should be treated, that needs compassion and kindness. Fortunately treatment of depression and other illnesses of the mind have finally, just recently been recognized as worthy of insurance coverage, though not yet for those in the Medicare population.

For the older generation, there may be another layer. Lack of access to treatment whether because treatment is not covered or for lack of income or because the depression is not recognized, can make things especially hard and isolating. This part of our population is often less active, friends start to die, perhaps spouses and/or significant others also, one may no longer be able to live alone, gets isolated at home or in a nursing home, can no longer drive or the family lives too far away to visit regularly or a host of other things. They may feel that everybody elses life is on a speeding track that goes ever faster while the older person’s track is rapidly winding down. But again depression does not happen just to the aging person. Experts agree that the likely cause is a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors.

Chinese formula

Chinese formula

There are of course a host of effective treatments available for depression. The first step is to get an assessment from a healthcare professional to weed out any underlying illnesses that may present themselves with similar symptoms. After that actual treatment may consist of medication and also talk therapy or because the many medications can have unpleasant side effects and may take 2-3 weeks before reaching full potency, one may alternatively choose  Chinese Herbal Therapies of Acupuncture. A thoroughly trained Chinese Herbal Practitioner will be able to put together a formula that addresses the whole body, the stagnation of internal Qi, that can present itself additionally with lack of energy, sleep disruption, anxiety, gastric irregularities and a host of other symptoms that may be present. This type formula generally works quicker and very rarely cause side effects.

imagesCAF88AP9But treatment for depression should not really end there. There are things that the person suffering from the depression should do for themselves, even though they may not feel they have the energy to do so. It is an important stepping stone on the path to recovery or at least managing the illness. It is important to move and move as much as you can. Moving helps break the internal stagnations, so do get up in the morning and get dressed even if you don’t feel like it. Do get help for sleep issues. Do exercise, go to the gym, go for a walk or take a bike ride or swim, Tai Qi or Yoga or….., even if you don’t feel like it. Try meditation to help go within and to still those negative and repetitive voices. It is equally important to eat a healthy diet and it is important to reach out and maintain social connections, even if you don’t feel like it. And finally it is important to maintain a regular daily schedule of work and rest and recreation even if you don’t feel like it.

The very last of my roses

The very last of my roses

Even if you can do only one of these things per day, start with what you can manage to complete with the eye on doing more tomorrow.

Here is a recipe for a French Onion soup I made the other day, what an ultimate tasty comfort food it is. Try it out. Your mind and body will be happy. Otherwise, if you suffer from depression consider eating smaller meals, perhaps more frequently of fresh and/or freshly prepared foods. Spinach 3Lots of cooked/steamed/stir fried greens, including those with a bitter quality; kale and collard, arugula, dandelion, alfalfa, endive, romaine, watercress, amaranth, quinoa, etc. Do use some herbs, but avoid overly spicy foods. Also some, not too much good quality protein and some whole grains. Avoid too much sugar, too many refined grains, any processed foods, junk food or fried foods, greasy foods. These just make the internal Liver Qi stagnation worse and make you feel worse in the end.  Instead look through the recipe section there is surely something to make you want to eat.

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Edging In On Thanksgiving

Sauteed liver with potatoes, spinach and cranberry relish

sautéed liver with potatoes, spinach and cranberry relish

A couple of weeks ago I bought a packet of liver from my trusted farmer Forrest of Smith Meadow. The weather is cooling down and I feel in need of some extra nourishment. I would never dare to cook liver from commercially raised animals, because of the types of foods they are often fed, where that feed comes from and the way that feed was stored before use. I will not comment on the comings and going near a commercial grain storage bin, but it is lively. With meats from a farmer who raises his or her cattle responsible, care about the animals , about how happy they are, I feel perfectly safe. So I was looking forward to dinner. I thought to myself, if I was in Norway now I would have a helping of stirred lingonberries with the meal. Perhaps even a helping of pickled beets. Half the population, in Norway, who live in areas lingonberries grow stream out into the large forests with baskets and backpacks. to pick quarts if not gallons of the berries for winter use. This has gone on for decades if not centuries. Lingonberries  (Vaccinium Vitis idaeagrow in very northern climes  around the world. They are a staple not only in Norway and Sweden, Native Americans of Canada and the people’s the whole breadth of Siberia. Lingonberries are closely related to the American cranberry, Vaccinium oxyccocos.

Fresh cranberry relish

Fresh cranberry relish

Once home the berries would be washed and picked over, significant quantities of sugar is added to the tub, you read right no mere bowl for this work. Then the stirring starts, arm breaking work (mostly because the tub was large) that needs several people who are all worn out by the end of it. Well you know in hindsight 1 feather becomes a hen.  Anyway back then when no one had freezers, the tub was stored in a cold room and the contents doled out with each dinner and not long after Christmas it would be gone. It added that little dash of sour flavor Chinese Medicine likes so well and since it probably fermented a bit on the way, it likely added a little fermented aspect to the meal as well. Well I was set on having stirred cranberries with my dinner, so I bought a packet of regular American cranberries and set to work. I washed them and ran them through the cuisinart, giving them a finely chopped consistency, then added half sugar and half Stevia (me and my sugar phobia) and also 2 well crushed Juniper berry and 6 Rosemary leaves, also well crushed. This in my mind would add a slightly woodsy flavor to it. Other times I have added a little orange juice or pomegranate juice and a touch of ginger and I see from a recipe from Norway that some folks even add a tablespoon of Aquavit. Hm! have to make a mental note to try that. Here is a recipe for cranberry sauce. A lot of folks think that organ meats are for the dogs only, but truly nothing could be further from the truth. It was in truth a delicious meal. Here is how to cook liver so it stays well cooked, but not dried out and of course very tasty.

Still with being so late in the year, intermittently cold and dreary, we have had days that were absolutely beautiful. Last weekend I took myself over to Baltimore to see an exhibit and ended up having lunch of Louisiana Shrimp at a restaurant, outside no less. It was a deliciously spicy, but with well-balanced flavors.  The sun was shining bright, there was all sorts of activities to watch on the water from water taxis to and from Fort McHenry to colorful dragon shaped paddle boats darting around the inner harbor with the stately clipper the “Pride of Baltimore”, as a backdrop. The fall colors were as brilliant as I have ever seen them that weekend and to make the most of the day and to fully stop and smell the roses, these are the ones going through their last hurrah in my garden.

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