Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Is it Summer Yet?

Summer 2019 in the Pacific Northwest has been gray and dreary.  We've been warm, then rainy, then overcast, then warm, then cool, and we're back to wet at times with a higher humidity level.   My garden plants are loving it, but me not so much. 

In a typical PNW summer, it begins to creep and get hot after the 4th of July festivities.  We usually get that one rain and then boom!  HOT time!    We haven't reached that tipping point yet.   Hopefully soon! 

This year's gardens have onions, tomatoes, beets, carrots, zucchini, cucumber, radish, broccoli, artichoke, pumpkin, watermelon, garlic, corn, lettuce, peppers, and of course potatoes.   We've also let a few things go to seed, like these carrots!

So who knows what folks will get with their Christmas baskets this year!   Handmade salves, scrubs, creams, and maybe some glorious carrot, brocoli or kale seeds!

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Book time.

Some may wonder what came first?  the books or the brew?  Brew as in whatever food I've made not a witches brew or craft beer brew.  Books came first.

When I was a young girl, my sister and I shared a room.  I learned a specific way to read while I was in 4th grade (imagine all of the words), and from there I was lost in whichever world the book described!   The only downfall is that I can recall lines and text I've read and even get a song stuck in my head for days.   Those people who say their hear voices?   Yup, that's me.  I recall things and they get stuck on a loop in my mind - maybe it's a chorus of a song I heard - maybe its praise or a harsh word from someone.  Don't fret as I have learn to use spin those downfalls into mighty accomplishments!   I can remember lines that I have read, text I have written, and with a prompt music and songs!   The surefire way to get on track, fight insomnia when things are rambling in my mind?  Find a book and read - block everything else out and immerse myself.

You see friends, it is not just books that are my first love - it is the written and spoken words that make them up. Language, communication, diverse dialect, emotion conveyed through words.  Words are important, they can lift or crush you.  We should choose them with care for our audience and not be reckless with them.

I have not kept up on the trends - but I do find it fascinating how fast - or how slow- that slang language can take over.  Remember when texting was limited to a certain number of characters?  Or how you couldn't write a novel on a FB post?  Or go back farther and ask about a telegram!   The written and spoken Iword has gone through so many changes - the American English language is as fluid as the rivers which run from the mountains to the seas.  It can change with the seasons and swell with the tides!

Nowadays I read for so many reasons.   To escape, to quiet my mind, for entertainment, for stress relief, to learn something, for cooking, and just because I can.  You are reading this - so that counts too.   Maybe my book choices are not Nobel peace prize winners - I may not lean toward an autobiography of a famous person and certainly try to avoid the "in" trendy book of the moment (I never read the "grey" book series which everyone gushed about).  When I do like an author - I tend to buy their books, and man oh man is my library busting out the seams again!

I have read some not so great books too.   Perhaps the writers style was not too my liking, perhaps the content was not in my interests, or perhaps the delivery of the story was not...  See, trying to find the right word and "shitty" isn't right.  I recently bought a popular authors book (no I won't bash them), and it was so... summarized.  It felt as if the author published a rough draft, or it was meant to be a screenplay, or maybe someone else wrote it - but to me it was off-putting.   I read reviews on Amazon and others felt the same.   But again, reading is highly subjective.  Just because I did not care for it, doesn't mean another won't.

This all being said, I do more than just cook around here!  I may use the tablet, Netflix some shows while cooking and cleaning, but to really escape - I like to grab a cup of coffee or tea, a tangible book, and sit in a quiet place for a few hours.  Reading is what helps me to recharge.

Now onto the next book!  I am starting a new series by Erica Spindler.  The Lightkeepers "The Final Seven".   I love her other books and actually just finished "Justice for Sarah and "The Other Girl".

So the question I pose of you.  Why do you read? Do you find yourself drawn to a certain style of writing, or a particular subject?

Sunday, May 19, 2019

Annual asparagus event

It happens every year.  The asparagus grows, we buy it, pickle it and enjoy the bounty all year long.  Sometimes we give them as gifts, but many times we hoard them so we can make super delicious recipes.

My pickling recipe is pretty standard.  Water and vingear in equal ratio; sugar, salt and a spice mixture.  We redo this mixture every year, in search of the best one.  It is a work in progress!

Pictured above is dill, garlic, mustard seed, black pepper, red pepper flakes, onion, celery seed and juniper berry.  I know there are several non-AIP ingredients, so if you are sensitive to nightshades, unfortunately this is not the recipe for you.

Store for 4 months, then enjoy!  Then what do you do? Snacks, bloody mary cocktails, salads? How about a pickled pasta salad?

Enjoy the bounty of the season!

Thursday, April 25, 2019


2019 marks 10 years in a few anniversaries.   I quit smoking,  my dad was diagnosed and died 3 months later from lung cancer.   

This year I had a long conversation with my doctor.     My own health is at a turning point.    I am at the point that unhealthy habits that seem minor now will lead to a shorter lifespan down the road or have me suffering from medical issues.  I don't smoke but that doesn't mean my 12 years of doing so didn't do enough damage.

How does this happen?     You go from what you thought was healthy to a crash in 10 years.  My hair started falling out 10 years ago too.   Stress is not my friend.   While I have made several changes to get back on a better path,  it's time for some more.      Nerve pain is getting worse so I have to keep doing the good things that help and use products that don't hinder the healing.

Instead of giving things up,  I am trying to change my mindset about what I am gaining.   More time with my husband.   The lung capacity to take a high altitude hike!   Less mass on my joints leading to less pain.   Maybe less psoriasis flares.
The possibilities are endless!

I am going to slip back,  I am doing to fall down (I am a but clumsy at times),  but I will keep pushing forward!

I have a goal set,  a time frame.    Spring helps as I am naturally more active.   Gardening is a big job around our home, so expect to see a few more reading in the garden posts!

Don't fear change.   Take it slow,  be well,  keepoving, and rest when you need it.

Blessings to all.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

Welcome 2019

I know I'm a little late welcoming in the New Year.  That doesn't mean I have been sitting on my arse doing nothing!   In the BNB WA kitchen all sorts of new reciepes are emerging, plus garden planning is going on, and reading time has been limited.   I can tell you it's easier to get reading time in with a cat than a puppy - so I take the tme when I can get it.

Daily cooking has lead me to vary my routine and reciepe collections.   When I make the weekly menu, due to the fact I am cooking for a house guest too, I need to make a touch more than usual.  I plan to make meals that are easily reheatable and filling to the hard working man (could be woman, but the two I am meal prepping for are men).
While I could get by with just a small salad and a protein, they need a bit more to work 10-12 hour shifts. 

Some of their favorites:
Salisbury Steaks
Cowboy Beans (actually is B's reciepe)
Sausage pesto pasta
Chicken Enchillada casserole with homefried tortilla chips
Shrimp stir fry with Coconut rice
Roast chicken with mashed potatoes
Sweet & sour Meatballs and Hawaiian style pasta salad
Amy's  Meatloaf
Fresh Pork chops n roasted veggies
Chicken Quarters with roast root veggies
Fully loaded steak salads with homemade dressings (choices!)
Teriyaki Chicken Legs with fried rice (in a number of combinations)

I must admit, I've had a bit too much of my trigger foods.  I ended up having a bad autoimmune flare a few weeks back.  Things that upset my system are legumes, corn, wheat, nuts, and dairy.  Legumes seem to be the worst right now.   I have come to the conclusion that almond milk creamer in coffee is actually a bad combination.  Thankfully I have found a coconut milk creamer that I enjoy - so I can have one cup of coffee.  Otherwise, it is back to tea; not that I am complaining as I LOVE tea too.

You probabally want reciepes. 

Some I may have posted about before, while others I just follow what I think sounds good at the time.  Things that inspire the menu are what is on hand, what is on sale, what is going to be fully used, or made to last over a few different reciepes - if I buy in bulk (like eye of round beef roast).

Amy's Meatloaf

Ground Beef - 1 lb
Ground Venison 1 lb
Ground Pork (plain not sausage) 1 lb.
Sourdough loaf (the airy kind not the soft kind)
Dark marbled rye bread (at least 4 slices)
BBQ sauce ***
Medium white onion, minced
Garlic, 2 cloves minced
Handfull of Parsley, chopped
Sea salt
Fresh ground Pepper
Large eggs
Worcestshire Sauce
Olive oil
Bone Broth***

*** These are items I make from scratch.

*Tear the sourdough into chunks and let it sit out on the counter overnight alongside the rye bread.  You want the bread to dry a bit so the crumb is fine when you add to the meat mixture.
*Next morning bring all ingredients to room temp except the ground meat.
*Using gloved hands, add to a large non-reactive bowl:  beef, pork and venison, minced onion, chopped parsley, minced garlic, dash of salt, dash of pepper,  and a splash of bone broth.  You only want a splash at this step.   
*Gently mix with your hands.  Remove and discard gloves.
* Add 3/4 of the bread by tearing the bread into fine crumbs for the rye bread, and half crumb and a few chunks for the sourdough.   Do not mix in yet.
*Once the bread is sprinkled all over the meat mixture, crack an egg over (ratio of 1 egg per 1.5 lb of meat so I use 2 eggs as I use 1lb of each meat item).
*add a dash of worcestshire sauce, a splash of bone broth, and a dollop of BBQ sauce.
*With new gloves, gently mix in the crumb and eggs with your hands.
*Review time - If the mixture is too dry, add a touch more of BBQ sauce or bone broth.  If it's too wet, add more bread (which is why we reserve some of the bread). 
*Adjust the mixture as needed, discard gloves.
*Prepare your pan.  I found that lining my baking dish with parchment paper made it easy to lift out the finished meatloaf.  But if you are only serving buffet style in the kitchen like we do, it's not needed.  Instead, just sprinkle some olive oil around the dish to give it a nice coating (and a nice outside edge).
*Add the meatloaf mixture, then smooth out.
*Coat with a light amount of BBQ sauce
*Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then top with a bit more bbq sauce and bake for an additional 30 minutes.
*Total is an hour - give or take until meat thermometer registers 160 degrees.
*Let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

I serve this with parmesan garlic mashed red potatoes and a side of sour cream!   Note - I make this when I can handle nightshades and eggs, not during a bad flare.

If you don't want this as a casserole, you can use this exact recipe to also make meatballs or cook in regular muffin tins, or mini muffin tins!   The possibilities are endless.

How do you like your meatloaf?  More meat than bread, ketchup or bbq sauce, dry or moist? 

Off to do some shopping - will post the next reciepe later on!