the eternal snows

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Today was a snow day for much of the area, but we went ahead and had school this morning.  The kids might see it with a different perspective, but for me, homeschooling is one long perpetual snow day.  We get to stay home and stay warm and I love it.

Last week I had the idea to make a “snow” dish by making it out of anything white I could find. I cooked onion, garlic, apples, cauliflower, potatoes, and rice in one pan. Since I’ve grown up hearing things like, “Eat the Rainbow”, I wondered where the white foods fell on the healthy food spectrum.  I don’t fully understand the way light works, but I know from things I’ve read that white is something like a reflection of all the colors.

Then just today as I was making lunch, simultaneously listening to a Dr. Axe video on viruses, he mentioned that in ancient Chinese medicine, the Chinese believed white foods nourished the human immune system.  They thought the design of the food served as a clue to what part of the body it helped.  I thought about my “snow” white dish from the previous week, which ended up more of an orange after I sprinkled it with tumeric.

Then it all made total sense.

White blood cells!

I’ve been reading portions of the Lewis and Clark journal entries quoted in the book “Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West.”  Upon Lewis’s return from his great expedition, he wrote a letter to Thomas Jefferson in which the words “eternal snows” were used to describe a portion of mountain that had been impassable without the help of Indian guides.  I’m using them here to describe those vivid moments you feel you could wildly be thankful for forever.

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to be continued

An eerie sadness descends every night before sleep.  Little by little, they–the moments–are slipping away.  If not sadness, then fear.  What, if not death, will my tomorrow hold?

It’s in the early sleeping hours, anywhere between lights out and midnight.  Does someone follow me around to haunt me the second my head hits the pillow?  I tell my husband I’m losing them, that their childhood is now another day gone.  He reminds me of his life, how he is now grown, and yet, still loves his mother.  I am comforted by this, by the truth a grand love doesn’t have to be lost.  All of us were together this evening, and indeed, I see how true his mother still loves him.  Grandparents are an incredible gift.

I baked my first edible brick this weekend.

Just kidding.

The bread was good. I look forward to baking more and experimenting with different recipes.  I think the biggest thing is going to be keeping up with my starter.  It isn’t high maintenance, but you can’t just leave it on the counter and forget about it either.

Today was more of a pondering day.  The Wednesday night church thing we go to has several different classes to choose from and attend.  I chose the class that was talking of addictions.  Each week they’ve focused on a different addiction–food/body image, electronics, drugs & alcohol, and the last one this week is supposed to be on control.

Our group leader wonders if addiction is actually something that every person struggles with. This had been making me scratch my head a bit, wondering, if we all had one or even several addictions, what my particular addiction was.

Food for thought:

What is that thing you can’t stop doing?

nothing to prove

Something in starter didn’t smell right to me.

The directions told me that by day three or four, the starter might be giving off a sour or “pungent” odor.  I didn’t know exactly what pungent meant, but the smell coming from the mason jar seemed to match the word exactly.  The bubbles were forming, the consistency had gone from a thick dough-ball into a bubbly batter-like form.

I wish not to bore you this day with ardent details of beginner sourdough bread-making.  However, I feel as though I have started a story, with each of these blog posts leading into another.  Overnight, between the fourth and fifth day, a brownish liquid appeared at the top of the batter.  The smell was also especially pungent.  I dumped half of it out.

Then I added another 4 oz of flour and 4 oz of water, covered the jar with a cloth, and set it again toward the back of my stove.  These past several days the pungent smell has disappeared and in its place has come a gentler, soothing, bread-like yeast smell.  There are more bubbles this time than there were before, and it looks, I think, like it should.

The garlic rosemary sourdough bread, at this point, is still a picture in my book.  Who, truly, has time for this?  This time, or lack of it, is the number one reason I have yet to start kneading.  The jar stands now representing every dream and intention just waiting to be acted upon.  As long as he sits, untouched, untried, I cannot say I passed him by.

The jar calls, still, and will not be ignored.

 

 

parsley, sage, rosemary

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One of the reasons cooking has been such a stumbling block for me is because I get overwhelmed by the expectation that I’m supposed to be entertaining my family.  Novelty, variety, and dodging people’s picky palettes is not to be my guiding force.

Food is a gift from the earth–from the earth’s Creator–and a gift that our culture enjoys in abundance.  I want to enjoy this gift as well, but sometimes what I concoct as my primary cook job requirements get in the way.  I enjoy cooking so much more when I put some thought and effort into it, when I am free to bring heart and soul and desire into it.

I started a sourdough starter today.  It’s merely an experiment to see if it works, but if it does, I want to then see if I can actually learn to make daily bread from it.  I, too, immediately start thinking of Against All Grain and years of things I’ve read against flour and white bread.  What did they use in the Bible to make bread?  Somehow, someway, there has got to be a version of bread that can peacefully co-exist with man’s stomach.

Bread is known as comfort food.  It’s one of those foods that makes everything right with the world and a meal.  You could eat bread every day and I do not think we would ever get tired of it.  Bread is one of those pleasures in life that says to me God truly desires for mankind to enjoy life.  There’s more to life than simply being sanctified in suffering.

Seven months out of the year here it’s too cold to swim.  These are the times I not only delight in warming foods, but desire to serve them to also warm others.  Children are not fond of the appearance of lentils, but the more I offer these warming soups and foods, the more I think they’re beginning to accept them.  I could seriously get used to this.

Instead of coming up with something new every day, I’m wanting cooking to be more of an experience where meals revolve around everyday staples.  Rice is what I’m wanting to incorporate more of, along with experimenting with fresh herbs and spices. I’m wanting less excess cultural influencing on what to eat and more trusting my instincts.

 

 

 

January book stacks

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Reading is a wonderful evening activity, particularly winter evenings when daylight ends early.  I retire to my bed before any of the others (I come out later to tuck children in).  An afghan, cup of tea, possibly a cat, and my current pile of reads accompany me there.

Liver Rescue by Anthony William
There’s a lot of talk today about gut health and even brain health, but the liver is not an organ we typically pay attention to, and this liver neglect is one of the author’s main concerns.  He isn’t a fan of too high-protein or high-fat diets that limit the intake of fruits and vegetables, precisely because these are the foods that nourish the liver.  He is a fan of apples, root vegetables, and foods like broccoli, cauliflower, and brussels sprouts.  This book has been so interesting to me I’m hoping to read the other books in its series.

Back to the Table by Art Smith
The family table is a place where bodies are nourished, spirits are revived, and souls are charmed in the presence of kin.  The author, a private family chef, shares stories of childhood memories of food and tables intermixed with pages of beautiful, delicious, and hearty-looking recipes (I haven’t tried or tasted any yet). One thing he says is that he doesn’t care what people say about carbohydrates, he serves fresh bread at every meal (Oprah hired him, so maybe he’s right).  I’ve had this thought before myself, how amazingly wonderful and delicious lunch and supper would be everyday if there was fresh bread with variations on butter/honey-butter/olive oil for spreading or dipping.

The Wisdom of Menopause by Christiane Northrup, M.D.
A few months ago my sister introduced me to the MyFLO app.  It’s an app you can use to track not only the days of your menstrual cycle, but also any symptoms that come along with it.  The symptom tracker offers suggestions on what hormonal issues might be along with specific steps to address them. The app also gives insight into each of the four phases of the menstrual cycle–the menstrual, follicular, ovulation, and luteal phases–including what foods and exercise routines are best for the particular phase you are in, along with emotional, mental, and relationship factors to consider. The app’s creator, Alissa Vitti, wrote a book called Woman Code which contains an introduction by Christiane Northrup, which is what drew me to this menopause book.  Both authors believe in the importance of women listening to and learning from their bodies. I’m appreciating the perspective and life-experiences of women from mid-life and beyond.

The Healing Art of Essential Oils
For the longest time I pretty much ignored essential oils.  I always said I didn’t have the brain space needed to look into them at the moment.  They basically seemed like quackery to me and I didn’t really see how small bottles of oil could be all that helpful.  My mind was changed after a personal healing from flat-warts.  After twenty years of watching painless skin-lesions slowly spread across my right forearm, I wanted to see if there was anything that could be done to get rid of them.  A dermatologist years before had confidently diagnosed the lesions as flat-warts and given me a small tube of sample cream.  Because I was breastfeeding at the time, I was hesitant to use the cream and never did.  Several years later I googled “home remedies for flat-warts” and oregano oil was named in an article.  I had oregano oil at home in a home-care kit I’d recently purchased from homeschool co-op mom.  It took about six weeks of morning and evening applications, as well as several instances of burning my skin (oregano is considered a “hot” oil) before using a carrier oil, but the warts completely cleared.

Being Mortal:Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
A surgeon writes about his lack of preparation in dealing with death in a modern world. As a physician he was trained to keep people alive.  The author wrestles, however, with his own limitations in being able to save people, and also with the reality that not all patients are on on the path of being saved.  He specifically examines past and present care and considerations of the elderly population. After working in various long-term care facilities, I have a special place in my heart for the elderly.  This book strikes a chord of longing in my heart for the community and shared life of intergenerational living.

The Healing Power of Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zin
Since my New Year’s word is “mindful”, I saw this book displayed in Barnes and Noble and was convinced it was meant to be bought with my Christmas money.  This is the kind of book where you read a chapter, take a break, and then return for another round.

Inside Picture Books by Ellen Handler Spitz
These are the treasures I find at Goodwill.  This book examines various classic children’s books and draws out the lessons and themes in the story and illustrations. “Adult participation–physical, emotional, and intellectual–is vital in the cultural lives of young people.  It matters for both learning and for pleasure, which go hand in hand.”