a little glimpse

Hello again, I see that the blogging habit did not stick the last time that it circled back around, though it is often in my thoughts.

Lately I’ve been busy being mama, and playing music. Mostly they work really well together. It feels more graceful now that the little one’s just a little bigger. This past weekend for Harvest Festival the little ones grandparents, uncle, and aunt worked magic for me to be able to play a three hour gig (and help load and unload and teach workshops). Gratitude. Here we are:Marimba Project

Today I’ve been antsy with “the list” and trying to get little bits done here and there as well as being present for the making of a pile of red, yellow, and green leaves on the bench.

I just pulled the latest pickles into the fridge and they’re working!


Fresh pickling cucumbers – unwashed – straight from the garden (this is important because the skin has some of the bacteria needed for fermentation)

brine – 1 gallon of water to 1 cup salt – boil the water, add the salt, let cool before pouring on

spices – as desired – fresh dill, pickling spice, whole peeled garlic cloves, whole peppercorns

a couple of grape leaves (for crunch)

a jar

3-14 days

tuck the final cuke under the edge of the jar so it can’t stick out. Then I cover with a plastic bag stuck into the water to create a seal and lightly cap with a lid. store out of the sun in a place where they will go undisturbed but remembered. 7 days has been working nicely for me – a cool spot in summer, a warmer spot in the winter – as stable as possible

skim off scum and refrigerate.



There are kale chips in the oven: kale, olive oil, coconut oil, ground sesame seeds, salt and a bit of nutritional yeast. We like to bake them at low temperatures (200 degrees) even though they take longer – they are much less likely to burn.

There is laundry in the machine ready to be hung: diapers, and diaper covers.

There are slab ends in the driveway ready to be cut. Soon.

The list of things to do is long. On it is also walking, doing yoga and playing marimba.

I am liking “Farmacology: What Innovative Family Farming Can Teach Us About Health and Healing” by Daphne Miller, MD that I get to read while nursing and while the little one is napping. I just finished, “The No Impact Man” by Colin Beavan. And both lead me to feel that we are on the right track with our lifestyle and could be doing more.

So I called the local farmer for goat milk today which is good on both accounts of being a more sustainable choice and being good for the bacteria in my intestines.

Speaking of which, I need to also put on more water kefir.

And now I shall go tend to this life instead of just writing about it. And you?

fall herbalism

We made it through the flood of tomatoes and peaches and nectarines. Now we have pears and apples left asking for attention. And some grapes. But as the food clears out of my kitchen, I realized that I hadn’t been paying as much attention to the herbs in my garden.

So this week has been focused on herbalism. It seems that the plants calling right now are the ones good for the winter illnesses.

I started with the horehound and mixed up some horehound honey for winter coughs.

Next was pulling some mullein leaves to dry for tea and the lungs.

Also this week, I gathered a small crew (thank you!) and we dug echinasea and washed the roots and cut them and put them in organic vodka to tincture.

Next week it will time to dig valarian for tincturing for the winter blues.

Also right now, the dandelions have been glorious. With all the rain we’ve been getting here, they are lush and glorious. I’ve been liking them fresh (chopped small) in a salad dressed with oil, vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and carrots or sesame seeds. I’ve also been making a stir-fry with greens (including dandelion), and dressed right at the end of cooking with vinegar, lemon juice, a touch of honey and a touch of nama shoyu or wheat free tamari. Yum. It’s always amazing to me how generous our weeds can be when we stop fighting with them.

Here are a few of the reasons to eat dandelion:

#1 – High in Calcium: Dandelion greens are loaded with calcium. Just one cup of chopped dandelion greens has 103 milligrams (10% of the recommended daily value) of calcium! That’s slightly more than kale! Add two to three cups of dandelion to a smoothie with calcium-rich fruits like orange, kiwi, fig or papaya and you’ll have a green smoothie that has more calcium than any dairy product!

#2 – Rich in Iron: Next to fresh parsley, dandelion greens have a high iron content. One cup contains 1.7 milligrams of iron.

#3 – Improves Digestion: Bitter foods, like dandelion, tone and stimulate the entire digestive tract. (Susan Weed)

#4 – Loaded With Antioxidants: Dandelion greens are high in vitamin A in the form of antioxidant carotenoid (beta-carotene) and vitamin C. Vitamin C also helps facilitate iron absorption.

#5 – The Ultimate Detox & Cleansing Green: If your goal is detoxification and cleansing, dandelion greens should be the ones you use in green smoothies! They are said to help cleanse the liver and many detox recipes call for them.

#6 – Lots Of Minerals: Dandelion greens are rich in minerals. Besides calcium and iron, they are a good source of copper (10% RDA), manganese (8% RDA), phosphorus (5% RDA), potassium (5% RDA) and magnesium (5% RDA).

#7 – 14% Protein: Dandelion greens have more protein per serving than spinach. The greens themselves are 14% protein and contain all essential amino acids so it’s a complete protein. One chopped cup contains 1.5 grams of protein.

#8 – Multivitamin Green: Besides vitamin A as beta-carotene (186% RDA) and vitamin C (21% RDA), each cup of chopped dandelion greens are also good sources of vitamins B1 (9% RDA), B2 (11% RDA) and B6 (11% RDA), vitamin E (13% RDA) and especially abundant in vitamin K (357% RDA).

#10 – Health Benefits of Dandelion Greens: The nutrients in dandelion greens may help reduce the risk of cancer, multiple sclerosis, cataracts, age-related macular degeneration and stroke. Dandelion contains anti-inflammatory properties which may provide benefit to those with asthma and other inflammatory diseases.



update from my world

hello there.

Well, the pickling went well. They are now ready and tasty. It’s time to get the pickles out of the crock and put in some kimchi.

-daikon radish
-hot peppers
-salt and pressure + time = kimchi (or, since it’s not fully traditional, I’ve heard it called kimchi-kraut). If you’re feeling more traditional: http://youtu.be/0sX_wDCbeuU


This weekend we went out for a quick visit to the woods:

DSCN1029 nourishing!

Today, I’m feeling thankful for the rain. It means that instead of rushing around this morning before work to water everything by hand, I dug a bit, prepping a lettuce bed that I’ll plant for fall lettuce tonight or tomorrow. And then I had tea.


And now for more food preserving. Tomato sauce this evening and maybe another round in the dehydrator (it heats the house and preserves our food at the same time, what fun : )


I’ve been reading Michael Pollan’s new book, Cooked: A Natural History of Transformation and really enjoying it. Right now I’m in the fermenting section and it is making me want to bust out my pickling (read: ferment) recipes so that I can up the healthy bacteria in my gut.

I’ve known that fermented foods are good for us. I’ve known that while anti-biotics can be useful in certain cases, they come with a whole host of side effects by killing all the bugs in our intestines, not just the bad ones. I’ve been suspicious for a little while now of anti-bacterial soap and how clean the average American suburban home is. There is research now that shows farm-kids as healthier because they are exposed to more germs.

But reading about what is actually going on in here, makes me want to feed my bacteria.

“[The human body] is more like a complex ecosystem—a social network—containing trillions of bacteria and other microorganisms that inhabit our skin, genital areas, mouth and especially intestines. In fact, most of the cells in the human body are not human at all. Bacterial cells in the human body outnumber human cells 10 to one. Moreover, this mixed community of microbial cells and the genes they contain, collectively known as the microbiome, does not threaten us but offers vital help with basic physiological processes—from digestion to growth to self-defense.” -Ackerman http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=ultimate-social-network-bacteria-protects-health

I get all sorts of science fiction images when I read this. . . what happens if the bacteria takes over? . . .

But so far, it seems like we are in charge, and that it also makes sense to start taking better care of these little bugs that do so much for us. Like pickling and fermenting and such good things. So here’s a recipe for you by Sandor Katz, author of Wild Fermentation and The Art of Fermentation www.wildfermentation.com

I’ll let you know how it goes at my house. . .

Making Sour Pickles by Sandor Katz

The biggest variables in pickle-making are brine strength, temperature, and cucumber size. I prefer pickles from small and medium cucumbers; pickles from really big ones can be tough and sometimes hollow in the middle. I don’t worry about uniformity of size; I just eat the smaller ones first, figuring the larger ones will take longer to ferment.

The strength of brine varies widely in different traditions and recipe books. Brine strength is most often expressed as weight of salt as a percentage of weight of solution, though sometimes as weight of salt as a percentage of volume of solution. Since in most home kitchens we are generally dealing with volumes rather than weights, the following guideline can help readers gauge brine strength: Added to 1 quart of water, each tablespoon of sea salt (weighing about .6 ounce) adds 1.8% brine. So 2 tablespoons of salt in 1 quart of water yields a 3.6% brine, 3 tablespoons yields 5.4%, and so on. In the metric system, each 15 milliliters of salt (weighing 17 grams) added to 1 liter of water yields 1.8% brine.

Some old-time recipes call for brines with enough salt to float an egg. This translates to about a 10% salt solution. This is enough salt to preserve pickles for quite some time, but they are too salty to consume without a long desalinating soak in fresh water first. Low-salt pickles, around 3.5% brine, are “half-sours” in delicatessen lingo. This recipe is for sour, fairly salty pickles, using around 5.4% brine. Experiment with brine strength. A general rule of thumb to consider in salting your ferments: more salt to slow microorganism action in summer heat; less salt in winter when microbial action slows.

Timeframe: 1-4 weeks

Special Equipment:

  • Ceramic crock or food-grade plastic bucket
  • Plate that fits inside crock or bucket
  • 1-gallon/4-liter jug filled with water, or other weight
  • Cloth cover

Ingredients (for 1 gallon/4 liters):

  • 3 to 4 pounds/1.5 to 2 kilograms unwaxed cucumbers (small to medium size)
  • 3⁄8 cup (6 tablespoons)/90 milliliters sea salt
  • 3 to 4 heads fresh flowering dill, or 3 to 4
  • tablespoons/45 to 60 milliliters of any form of dill (fresh or dried leaf or seeds)
  • 2 to 3 heads garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful fresh grape, cherry, oak, and/or horseradish leaves (if available)
  • 1 pinch black peppercorns


  1. Rinse cucumbers, taking care to not bruise them, and making sure their blossoms are removed. Scrape off any remains at the blossom end. If you’re using cucumbers that aren’t fresh off the vine that day, soak them for a couple of hours in very cold water to freshen them.
  2. Dissolve sea salt in ½gallon (2 liters) of water to create brine solution. Stir until salt is thoroughly dissolved.
  3. Clean the crock, then place at the bottom of it dill, garlic, fresh grape leaves, and a pinch of black peppercorns.
  4. Place cucumbers in the crock.
  5. Pour brine over the cucumbers,place the (clean) plate over them, then weigh it down with a jug filled with water or a boiled rock. If the brine doesn’t cover the weighed-down plate, add more brine mixed at the same ratio of just under 1 tablespoon of salt to each cup of water.
  6. Cover the crock with a cloth to keep out dust and flies and store it in a cool place.
  7. Check the crock every day. Skim any mold from the surface, but don’t worry if you can’t get it all. If there’s mold, be sure to rinse the plate and weight. Taste the pickles after a few days.
  8. Enjoy the pickles as they continue to ferment. Continue to check the crock every day.
  9. Eventually, after one to four weeks (depending on the temperature), the pickles will be fully sour. Continue to enjoy them, moving them to the fridge to slow down fermentation.


end of August

I’m sitting on the porch with the sound of a few gentle raindrops on the apple tree above the overhang. It has been a sweet quiet Sunday, a two nap day, finally getting caught up on rest after perhaps overextending a bit for the first part of the month.

It was fun – camping, backpacking, hanging out with Pretty Gritty, teaching a workshop to a worship team in Fruita, heading over to check out the first annual Arise Music festival and seeing some of my favorite bands: Gregory Alan Isakov, Xavier Rudd, Zap Mama, Michael Franti, Sea Stars and some fun new music too. And I got to get up on stage with Scott and Shanti Medina to offer a bit of embodiment practice, yum. But I stayed up maybe a little too late, and ate maybe a few too many coconut caramels and breathed just a little too much dust.

And when I got home, the laundry had piled up and the weeds were growing just as fast as the plants in the garden. And a bit of overwhelm kicked in. 

And then, I started feeling concerned because just as the abundance that we have worked so hard to produce in the garden was coming into the kitchen, I was feeling burdened.

Luckily, with a bit of sleep, it all comes back into perspective. . . those 20 pounds of zucchini would make yummy fritters for the winter. And the eggplant that has been asking to be picked for at least a week is now baba ganoush and both recipes have earned a place in my “let’s do that again” folder.

Luckily the next peach tree on the property has given us a bit of a breather, but I hear the promise of soon. . . 


I’ve been feeling the peaches lurking. We’ve got a tree in our driveway and the branches start to brush on the roofs of our friend’s vehicles as they pull into the driveway. And I kept checking, and they were not ripe. And I wanted them to be, but they were not. And then. . .



They are falling when people drive up the driveway. They are falling when the wind blows. It is time for peach preserving.

So today I rallied a small crew and we made peach sauce, peach chutney, peach cobbler, dried some and froze some.

Yum. Peaches.

I didn’t really use a recipe for the chutney, but here’s the basic ingredients, and you can adjust to your tastes.

put this all into a pot and let it cook for a bit:

– peaches (once they start to cook mush them with a fork or potato musher)
– raisins (or cranberry bits or dried cherries or currents)
– onion (diced)
– hot pepper to taste (fresh if you have it)
– ginger (fresh and grated or chopped small)
– garlic (minced)
– salt

eat with chips or lentil soup or indian food or rice.


But the thing is this. . . we spent all afternoon on this project and we got a lot done, but there will be more to do tomorrow. And the next day and the next. If we want peaches, this is it. . . preserve them or loose them.

So many things in the garden happen this way.  I tried to plant the “exact right” amount of zucchini last year, so that we wouldn’t be overwhelmed, and what happens? None of them grew at all. 0 zucchini. So this year I planted lots, and lots of zukes. I decided that too many was better than none. And overall we’ve been keeping up. . . We’ve dried some and frozen some and given some away.

And I’m sure this is a metaphor, but I’ll let you fit it into your own life and say this:  I’m so thankful for the abundance.


We here in the northern hemisphere are in the midst of the great yearly transplant. Plants go from seeding rows to little containers to our homes.

Other than this, it used to be that plants stayed where you put them in my world. Options were limited –

you don’t like that mint growing where it is? Deal with it or pull it out. But these last few years I’ve been learning the art of transplanting – some plants take to it more readily than others and there is a certain point when trees just won’t tolerate it (though I’ve seen fairly large trees traveling on semi-trucks). Asparsagus doesn’t like to be messed with, so move it in the winter. Jerusulm artichokes will leave some behind as will horseradish and mint. It’s good to pull some of the bigger leaves and flowers of your plans before moving them or sometimes the plant will sacrifice itself to make seeds.

At my house, I’m leaving the big trees alone, and even the big bushes. But watch out little bushes and planties, the garden is changing.

When my brother first started transplanting fever I thought he was mad. I thought, “You can’t do that. Plants don’t like it, and it’s just not nice.” Now, I’d say that it’s true that generally plants don’t like to be transplanted, but if the choices are die or move, generally we all pick the movement option. And sometimes, even if it’s hard, there is a better home to be had after the move.

Yesterday my culinary sage moved from being on the edge of a desert zone, that has been overtaken by bellflower, to a prime spot in the center of the garden. I’ve already visited it more in the past day than I did in it’s old location and was inspired to look it up in the herb books and tincture some for a mouthwash I’ve been intending to make for awhile now. This morning its leaves are perked up and it looks like it’s going to take to its new home.

What I know is this: everything is a bit more mobile than I used to think it to be. I still have a sense of houses being stable and solid and mostly immoveable, though there are others with different views (take this wall out, and raise up the roof and paint this trim and install a solar tube). But for me these days I get a sense of the mobility of dirt and how to gently and gracefully put a plant into a new home.

My sweet husband keeps reminding me, they want to live even more than you want them to.

And yes, somehow this is a metaphor for life though I think I’ll let you make your synapses dance with it and not tell you exactly where to put it.



Salvia officinalis – from Susun Weed

“The easiest way to use sage as medicine is to make a tea of it. The addition of honey is traditional and wise, as honey is a powerful antibacterial in its own right and magnifies sage’s ability to ward off colds, flus, and breathing problems. If you have dried sage, a teaspoonful brewed in a cup of boiling water for no more than 2-3 minutes, with an added teaspoonful of honey, ought to produce a pleasant, aromatic tea. If it is bitter, the tea was brewed too long, or the sage was old or too-finely powdered, or you have the wrong sage. If you have fresh sage, use a handful of the leaves and stalks, brew for about five minutes, and add a spoonful of honey. Fresh sage tea is rarely bitter.”

Sage is accredited with antibacterial, antifungal, antiseptic, antispasmodic, astringent, carminative, diuretic, hypoglycemic, and estrogenic effects (Georgetown University). When taken as a tea, sage has a calming effect on sweat glands and reduces perspiration (Dweck 1987) this makes it good for menopausal women and fevers.

however – Sage should not be consumed in large, chronic doses because it contains thujone and is neurotoxic (Dweck 1987). One case report describes poisoning in an individual following ingestion of sage oil for acne (Centini 1987). Sage can stimulate the muscles of the uterus and should be avoided during pregnancy (Georgetown University). The essential oil of sage may causes seizures (Georgetown University). And it affects breast milk (though I’ve read conflicting reports on how it affects it).

reading and living

I just finished two books on eating locally and am feeling inspired – and wanted to share that inspiration.

The first book I read was “The Dirty Life” by Kristin Kimball. You can read more here: http://www.kristinkimball.com/

It’s about her first year on Essex Farm offering a year-round, full diet, CSA in Essex, NY. 500 acres; It made our ten acres feel very manageable and was a great read!


The second book was “The Feast Nearby: How I lost my job, buried a marriage, and found my way by keeping chickens, foraging, preserving, bartering, and eating locally (all on $40 a week)” by Robin Mather http://www.amazon.com/Feast-Nearby-marriage-preserving-bartering/dp/158008558X

It is essays and recipes from her first year alone in a cabin in Michigan. The recipes are great; we’ve already tried a few and they are solid (even with the tinkering that comes with being mostly gluten-free and mostly vegan). And I’m inspired to try more small-batch canning and staying on the freezing and drying- just to put a little bit of food away for the winter each week.


This week the bounty from the garden is arugula pesto! Yum.

I can’t give you exact amounts, but here is a very vague recipe for you (in order of amount included):

  • arugula (with dandelion greens, mallow, sorrel, parsley, and/or cilantro)
  • toasted sunflower seeds or walnuts or soaked almonds with the skins removed or pine nuts
  • olive oil
  • garlic
  • a splash of lemon or lime juice
  • salt
  • sun-dried tomatoes (optional)

put the whole mixture in a food processor and blend until you like the consistency (you can put the greens in a batch at a time and they’ll shrink down). To make it a bit crunchy, add the nuts at the very end.


We love to eat the pesto on pasta with stir fried veggies and on toast or flax crackers.

And to preserve, just put into a freezer-safe glass jar with a bit of head room and tuck it into the freezer.