Monday, June 29, 2009

Steamed Vegetables

Mosquito Creek ran through our back yard. It was a great place to sit and think.

One year my dad plowed an acre of land. Several of us, in an assembly line fashion, were planting the field with potatoes when my mother's toy poodle, Snoopy, was discovered following behind us, digging the potatoes up. It was odd little things like this that lead us to start calling our common family farm, “Colonel Carten's Funny Farm.”
If events were common or not, what vegetables we grew were the typical vegetables grown. There is a certain amount of acceptance of the common vegetable on a farm, but it was never seen as the main source of your diet. We foraged for fruits, nuts, and herbs from the wild around us, but it was dairy, beef, pork, and chicken that was thought of first when planning a meal.
It took learning, on my own, about herbs, nutrition, and allergies to consider the idea of being vegetarian. While working in a health food store I tried the food others were sharing and were insisting this food, this diet, was far superior than the average American diet. It gave me more energy. My gut wasn't constantly bloated and my weight was much easier to control.
Pure foods, those untainted by chemicals, barely cooked, and eaten fresh by themselves are sweet and juicy. The flavor comes out and stands on its own, to be enjoyed and cherished. It's easy to fall in love with food that loves your body. It's food I want over and over again.
At a Christmas party for the health food store we went to a restaurant that served only vegetarian. I ordered a dish of something, the name of which I no longer know. It was lightly saute´d vegetables and pine nuts over a bed of fettuccine floating in olive oil and basil. When it arrived I thought can this be good? All that oil. It was heavenly.
Here is my version of that dish I fell in love with so long ago. The base of this recipe is just a bunch of basic vegetables. Onion, garlic, carrots, and celery cleaned, chopped, and tossed into a steaming pot and then steamed until desired tenderness.
From this point you can change the combination of vegetables and add other food items. Toss it with olive oil, a sauce, or gravy. Place it on a bed of rice, potatoes, or pasta. Top it with nothing more than salt and enjoy it like that.
I find that I like it best with a handful of canned, black beans, and a tablespoon of basil sprinkled on top, to be steamed with the vegetables. I place this all, along with some cooked rice fettuccine noodles, into a fry pan with plenty of olive oil sautéing until the food is well coated with the oil and the oil is well heated.
As a potluck item you can add chopped meat and complementary spices and herbs. Rutabagas, potatoes, and parsnips are nice additions when using beef. A quick white sauce tossed in will work well with chicken.
Try cabbage, carrots, and ham steamed together for a quick nutritious dish when you are in a hurry for dinner. My family wouldn't eat this one, but I would if I could have pork.

Black Bean and Steamed Vegetables
Serves 2
One large carrot sliced on a diagonal to make the slices large.
One small onion chopped into large chunks.
Three cloves of garlic each cut in half the long way.
One stalk of celery chop them into ½ inch chunks.
1/3 cup of canned black beans (rinsed)
1 tablespoon of dried basil
2/3 of cooked rice or rice fettuccine noodles

I place each item into the steamer, except rice or noodles, in the order given above. I toss the vegetables once or twice during cooking. If the rice or noodles are leftovers from a previous meal I include them on top of the vegetables for about 2 minutes of steaming before tossing with olive oil. I don't measure the oil; I guess it would be 2 or 3 tablespoons. I would drowned it in oil if I thought my gall bladder and my effort to maintain proper weight would tolerate it. On days when I need to avoid the fat I drizzle on Tamari (gluten-free soy sauce), or lemon juice.
Finally, saute´ all ingredients together in a fry pan and until the oil is hot and has absorbed a bit of the flavor and aroma of the basil.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Raw Cookies

I like girl stuff, as much as any other girl, but when I was eight years old I started to think I was a bit different. It was on the day I wondered away from the Campfire girls meeting. We were making Christmas fancy stuff like candles and Christmas trees out of magazines. I went across the hall to the Boy Scouts meeting. Not, because my father and my brothers were there, I went there because they were learning about things. Like how to sharpen knives, and how to carve things with those knives. They made little race cars and learned to tie knots. The best thing they were learning was about survival in the wild.

On this day the meeting had ended early. To keep the boys busy and out of trouble a sneaker hockey game was being planned. Without fear I cut across the gym asking my dad to let me play. Little Billy D. stepped in front of me and spat, “Boy scouts is for boys!”

Right in his face, I yelled back, “It's just a game.”

I was allowed in on the game, but I was physically yanked out by my father as I went into a batting stance. I had to defend myself against Billy's on-coming high stick, didn't I?

Just like back then I still tend to be different. At most meals I eat food that is totally different from everyone else at the table. One of the weirdest, different foods I have been eating recently, is raw cookies. For those who don't know it, there are people who advocate eating all their food raw. Yes, that includes meat. I'm not into eating meat, cooked or uncooked, but if you like eating nuts and dried fruit, maybe you might like raw cookies as much as I do.

The raw food websites are a great source for delicious dairy-free and often gluten-free recipes. My favorite raw food website is Gone Raw.

My favorite raw food is cookies. They provide energy, vitamins, minerals, and protein in a perfect, quick pick me up, get me to my next meal, cookie shape. I even eat them as a breakfast. They are one of the few snacks that work with my severe hypoglycemia (low blood sugar.)

My latest favorite raw cookie tastes like Apple raisin oatmeal cookies, it doesn't even have oatmeal in it. It uses soaked seeds and nuts. This is an important step for two reasons. First it makes the seeds and nuts more digestible. Secondly, when mixed together, it softens the dried fruit, making the fruit more pleasant to eat.

Apple Raisin Energy Bites

1 cup raw sunflower seeds soaked for 4 hours and then rinsed.

1 cup raw cashews soaked for 2 hours and drained.

2 Fuji apples, grated

2 large bananas, well mashed

½ cup dated, chopped

1 cup raisins

1 tsp cinnamon

Raw food enthusiasts often own juicers and would at this point run the nuts and seeds through it with no grinding plate. I run the nuts and seeds through my meat grinder. Course ground is best as the fine grind tends to plug up.

Form meal/dough into small rounds and dehydrate in a dehydrator at 150°F for 3-5 hours or to desired level of dryness. Since I don't have a dehydrator I place the cookies on parchment paper in my warmed gas oven (200 more or less) for 4 hours. I then turn them over rewarm the oven and let them dry for another 4 hours.

Monday, June 15, 2009

What I Have Been Thinking

In the 2 years since I was diagnosed with Celiac's disease and a gall bladder polyp I have been in pain so often (every other week for most of the time,) that after my last cold not only could I not kick the congestion, but my adrenals have not been able to keep up. This leaves me down, again. The frustration of wanting to be healthy and productive when I am only left with lying around either holding my stomach while it is in pain or just unable to carry on gets me emotionally down.

As I struggle with the natural occurrence of poor me, I suddenly start seeing others who are worse off then I am. Whether it is homelessness, death, war, or someone who is blind to their own hatred for others, I am faced with the reality that I have life. I still have the right and the ability to think for myself and I can continue to grow as an individual. I am always hoping that I will never stop seeing myself as both a member of society and an individual always in need of improvement, always in need of loving my neighbor. Loving others is for my own good. Loving others is for others good. Loving others despite their show of anger and hatred for me is good for the whole world.

I'm not a peace at all costs kind of person. I fail to see how not fighting, no matter what, will bring peace. When someone wanting to kill you because you are inconvenient to them, or you do not think or believe as as they do, and you do not act with physical force, when physical force is being perpetrated on you will only lead to the bullies of this world owning this world and oppressing all others.

My point isn't specifically about physical force. Recently, a celebrity told fans on Twitter that the Creation Museum made him angry and that anyone who believed the world is only 6,000 years old are to stop following him. This brought on accusations that he was prejudge. He said those using the word were using it wrong. He is the example of anger and hatred I am talking about. He honestly believes that he is right and that he is not displaying hatred.

I am puzzled. I am unable to see how I can reach someone, when that someone has shut me out. I fail to see how he or anyone who acts as he has will convince me that they are right. They turn their back behaving as if I do not have the right to look at the facts and decide for myself what those fact mean to me. Being passionate is one thing. Using that passion to close in your world serves only to close your mind.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Getting Back On Course

First, I had a gall bladder polyp attack. They are very painful. I refuse to let the doctors take my gall bladder when it is the polyp that is the problem. I am learning to live with it until I figure out how to get rid of it.

Then, I was hit hard with a cold. I'm still coughing the last of the congestion. When it comes right down to it, I have been too ill to write. I will back at my blogging by next Monday.

I have managed some new pictures from my yard. I hope you enjoy these.