Friday, November 27, 2009

Big Pharm - Working Hard to Keep You Sick

I just had to share this excellent article:

The Pharmaceutical Industry Toasts Your Ill Health
By Ed Steene

Please read it carefully and think hard about that flu shot, that hand sanitizer, that pasteurized milk!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

The first thing I am thankful for today is the fact that it looks like the bleu cheesecake turned out well, though I still need to come up with a topping for it. It really wants a port reduction but I don't want to go buy port. So it'll either be a balsamic reduction or some lemon-macerated strawberries.

On a less foodie note, I'm feeling reflective this morning. A few weeks ago I didn't think I'd have anything to be thankful for this year at all. I'm happy to say I was dead wrong. I don't have a baby (yet), but I have my health and the ability to try again; I have a body that can recognize when something isn't proceeding as it should and deal with that. I have a loving husband - the most perfect match that could ever be made - and I have a large, loving family who I'm grateful for every day even when they're far away. I have a beautiful house to call my own, I have three beautiful sweet cats, I have four healthy chickens (three of whom are laying regularly now!), I have terrific friends who are supportive and funny and were right there with me when I needed them recently. Really, I've got more than I have a right to ask for. I'm proud to be so blessed.

This is why Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday; it simply can't be commercialized. I guess that's why corporate America starts Christmas earlier and earlier every year. You can't turn too much profit encouraging people to appreciate what they already have. Celebrating Thanksgiving might actually be our strongest tool in fighting the commercialist abuse of our culture.

So take a day, everyone. Tell people you love them and give thanks for what you have, whether or not you have a deity to thank. And then chow down and enjoy the carb loading. And don't forget to participate tomorrow in Buy Nothing Day.

I'm off to make breakfast and have a nice walk on the beach before I start cooking, but I want to share a blessing for the day. My brother reminded me of it this morning and I've always loved it. When I was little, my uncle used to say this grace before holiday meals: "Good bread, good meat, good G-d, let's eat." Some people frowned but it always seemed like the perfect (if succinct) expression of everything this holiday is about. I think I'll start my meal with it this year to celebrate the truth that, whatever else has happened, G-d and the food are still good.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Prep day...

Thanksgiving is my all-time favorite holiday - I absolutely love it! I'd looked forward to doing a huge Thanksgiving dinner in our new house to celebrate this year, but here we are in L.A. instead. Oh well. So father-in-law is brining an organic turkey breast today, and I just made a big batch of cornbread to sit out and dry all night. Tomorrow I'll mix it up with portobello mushrooms and butter and everything else, including some fresh sage from the garden, and get my dressing on! (Or stuffing, as these West Coast types prefer to call it.)

I had a moment of panic when I realized I hadn't brought my cornbread recipe with me and I thought I was going to have to settle for an inferior recipe or make another one up. But then I remembered I posted my recipe on this very same blog not too long ago, so I found it and saved the day.

I'm also making a bleu cheesecake out of Rogue Creamery bleu cheese. I'm very excited about that. I wanted to put hazelnuts in it but we have a nut allergy among us so that'll have to wait for next time. And of course, I'll be making the rummy sweet potatoes in the morning. It wouldn't be Thanksgiving without them!

Unfortunately we have a lot of packaged foods coming up on our table tomorrow, which is not by my design but it isn't my house. I'll make up for it this year with a good Luddite feast for Xmas/Chanukah/Solstice.

I have to say it feels WEIRD to be back in this climate, in my short sleeves and skirt, with the windows and screen door open and the sunny warm flowers breezing in. I'm sure Portland is freezing, dark, and very wet right now. I'll still be glad to get back.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Water, Tea, and Closure.

Finally, the day I've been waiting for, the one thing that puts a sparkle in my eye when I hear the name "Los Angeles"... it's spa day, baby.

That's right, I'm stepping out for a nice lunch of tom yum and then heading to Olympic Spa for cleansing, purification, and loads of barley tea. This closes the door on the whole miscarriage thing, and mother-in-law's funeral was yesterday, so today is all about closure and new beginnings. Lord knows I need it.

I can't wait to go start.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Jewish Penicillin!

With all the stress and the change in weather, Keith was getting a bit sniffly and had a sore throat. We loaded up on orange juice and vitamin C tabs, and yesterday I raided my in-laws' fridge and freezer for chicken soup fixings. There was a bag of slightly freezerburnt chicken - two legs and four wings - and assorted vegetables, so I did it the old-school way from scratch. It was heavenly, if I may say so!

Apparently the trick to good chicken stock is browning and sauteeing. Normally I just put the chicken, veggies, and water in there and boil it for several hours, but this one went faster and tasted better. First I browned the chicken in the stockpot in a little olive oil, then I threw in half an onion (chopped), then several cloves of garlic (halved), then half a sliced leek, then mushrooms, carrots, and celery. As that all came together I threw in some fresh herbs from their garden - which just so happened to be parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme. So maybe I'll call this my Simon & Garfunkle soup stock. I also threw in a couple slices of fresh lemon, just because they were there, some salt and pepper, and a bit of rice vinegar, and then - finally - water to cover.

It only needed to simmer for about an hour and a half, which really surprised me. It was so rich and chickeny that I wound up diluting it almost 1:1 for the soup! I will definitely make this stock again.

For the soup itself, I wanted it to be one of those good immune-boosting soups, the kind that practically have medical value. So I fished out the chicken and Keith strained the stock for me, and then I started over in a new pot. Alliums are good for the immune system, so I sauteed onions, garlic, and the other half of the leek in olive oil until they were golden, then threw in tiny carrot sticks and celery. While that cooked I went out to the patio again for more rosemary, thyme, and parsley, and a fresh-picked lemon from the tree. All that went into the soup too (well, only the juice of the lemon, and a bit of pulp), along with salt and pepper, and a little dried oregano. Topped that off with the good fresh stock and let it simmer while I picked all the chicken meat off the bone and stirred that in, and just before dinner I stirred in a couple handfuls of small thick tube pasta. When the pasta was ready, so was dinner.

It sounds like a lot of work, but it wasn't. Most of the time it just sat on the stove and simmered on its own while I read a book and hung out with family. It was delicious though, and so healthy as an immune-booster, even full of vitamin C from the lemon. Keith is well again, and I feel healthier again already.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Los Angeles

So here we are in Redondo Beach for Keith's mother's funeral. This is the first time I've left Oregon in more than a year - which is amazing, given my notorious roaming urges and my roadtrip history. I have a complicated relationship with Los Angeles that is mostly based on mutual dislike, but it'll be good to see friends after the funeral.

The roadtrip down was a hell of a drive. We left Portland and stopped in Ashland, which is a breathtakingly beautiful town near the state line. On the way we sampled fine cheeses at the Rogue River Creamery, tasted Oregon wines at a tasting room next door, then stopped at Lillie Belle Farms for creative, mind-blowing truffles. In Ashland we went to a lovely dinner at Larks, then retired to our B&B room to soak with bubbles in the jacuzzi while sipping wine and nibbling truffles. We fell asleep by a flickering fire. We had sorely needed a recharge like that and I'm very glad we got it.

The next day we drove through heavy snow, gusty winds, and white-outs in the mountain passes on the Oregon-California border. It rained most of the way through California, but of course southern California has been nothing but sunny. It's quite odd, now that I've gotten accustomed to seasons, to be sitting here in short sleeves on a sunny day in November. There's a certain lethargic disconnect that comes with the weather around here; I wonder if that's why southern Californians exist in that little bubble that they do, blissfully unaware that there is a world outside L.A.

We'll be here through Thanksgiving and then we'll truck on home to Portland. And when we get there, after eating the grocery-store eggs we had for breakfast yesterday, I'm going to give my hens a big treat. You really can taste the difference! It's part of the general pattern I've noticed since we got here Friday night, how different my life now is from the life I had down here. It feels like visiting another planet.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

I'm okay.

It's been a hard week, with a miscarriage coinciding with wrapping up the totalled-car situation. We bought another car, a Kia that is very much like my late and lamented Hyundai. The miscarriage is a disappointment and I'm not up for talking on the phone or blogging much at the moment but I'm overall okay and getting better with time and distraction. I will get back to blogging soon but wanted to say I'm all right. I do appreciate emails and text messages - even if I don't respond right away, I appreciate the support. And I am sorry for getting everyone excited too soon when I did know better; we just let excitement get the better of our judgement.

Good news is that Doris and Lucy finished their molt finally and yesterday we had our first three-egg day! Jane is still laying like a champ, Lucy's eggs are HUGE now, and Lana looks like she'll be ready sometime in the next couple of months. There's a big celebratory quiche in our near future.

I've taken a break from cooking for a little bit but tonight I'm going to be making this pumpkin pasta sauce and serving it over the pumpkin gnocchi that Keith and I made for the freezer a month or two ago. I plan on topping it with toasted hazelnuts. I might add turkey bacon if I feel like it. I'm really looking forward to it!

Today's plan also includes trying out a synagogue I've been meaning to visit, and a wrap party for the horror-movie trailer we worked on last month, so we've got a full day ahead of us. Tomorrow we're taking our new car for a drive out to the coast and a tour of the Tillamook Cheese Factory. We're keeping busy and bearing up.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Hectic, but good.

Blogfail, I know. I'm going to get better about it.

My brother is visiting for a month, so we've been running around Portland and the general surrounds. The house has a leak in the ceiling - happy rainy season! - so we're getting the roofers back out. The car is officially totalled and we need to get another one but haven't gotten the check back from the total loss yet. I'm searching hard for a job. Meanwhile I'm gestating a Little Luddite so I have a tendency to fall asleep much earlier than usual.

Still cooking though! We finally finished the 60 pounds of apples. It's become several jars of applesauce, apple butter, cranberry-apple chutney, dried apples (some with cinnamon), rosemary-apple jelly, clove-apple syrup (aka jelly that failed to set, but I'm going to re-can it with more pectin)... probably a few other things I'm forgetting. The applesauce is a fantastic addition to oatmeal with hazelnuts, see above.

More good news: Lucy has resumed laying eggs! Her molt is over and it's great to see those pretty green eggs again. So now two of our four hens are back to laying, and Doris is showing signs of readiness soon. Lana's still freeloading but I'll give her a bit longer. We're going to celebrate with a frittata this morning.