Category: Independant Lifestyle (Page 1 of 3)

VDay 16

I want to celebrate this Valentines day by planting a tree
that will blossom every year of our lives
feed us sweet fruits when we are older
give us bunches of flowers every spring
providing food for bees
to make into honey every year with which to sweeten our lives

I love it, becoming thoughtful
Giving flowers that are still alive
in a pot of dirt, with the potential to grow
more than those that are cut and imported
and flown around on cargo jets
making home made treats
secretly in the kitchen for one another
handled with care every step of the way
and designed with individual tastes in mind
containing something of you,
your energy, time and effort
That the sentiments of the holiday
Don’t have to be gotten from commercial sources

Its two years since the man I loved all my life
took his last breath on Earth,
casting a shadow on all the romance, hearts and candy
But the romantic glow of candlelight is always full of shadows
that deepen the brilliance of the soft light of love
and I think of him and his fearless heart
and the way he made it count
if a slight tear falls on the celebration
made more intense by whispers from the past
encouraging me to celebrate it with even more abandon,
dance wildly, love deeper, live my dreams in a life shared,
reach out and connect with a deeper passion than ever before

I’d like to celebrate by building another honey super,
maybe another hive
preparing for bees to prosper
with the sweetness of summer feed us,
with the buzz of life in the trees connect us
with brilliance of flowers on the ground and garden entice our eyes,
I missed his funeral in order to honour him in everyday life
Being fully present for the one whom I love
and creating a lasting memorey that reaches for a better future
than the one being created for us by environmental circumstance.

Year of the Moneky Business

From international trade agreements involving dozens of countries
being tricked into signing authority to over ride their sovereign laws
To the gut instinct of an 8 month old kitten
it horrifies me on how many levels
corporations try and seize control
the kitten’s been addicted
by misguided loving hands
to carbs and salts and chemicals he does not need
it would make him sick
to make him switch all at once
to a healthier choice
you’ve got to wean him off of the stuff
and I can just see those pet food CEOs
at their lab tests, cheering when the lab cats choose their manufactured food
over that which nature intended the beast to eat
and I once boycotted all their products as carefully as I could
In a human rights campaign
Because they did the same
to humans, mothers and babies in impoverished countries
receiving a gift basket for their newborns
containing cases of infant formula
in the guise of helping so the mothers milk dries up
and if the family can’t get more the baby starves and dies
insidious diabolical method of creating repeat customers through desperation
manufacturing junk food with child slave labour
food additives like vanillan ending up in the finished product
to make you want more of it as you eat it
immediate craving even as you’re getting full
then they also sell you diet pills and plans
when you can’t get a grip on it
the company’s got you covered
at all stages of addiction except for real recovery
letting the animal or the human make their own choices
with subtle chemical influence exerted behind the scenes
given a conscious choice, a person or an animal
would eat healthy food and never get fat or sick
but day to day we have to think twice
to take the fruit and not the candy every time you want something sweet
to eat the fish and not the chips at home
There’s been rat meat sold as chicken wings for Superbowl Sunday in the USA
and it might be more sustainable that way
If I could find those packages of wings processed in China
I could feed a species appropriate food to my pet
thinking I’m crazy to consider it, it was a scandal, strictly illegal
but it passed the taste test of hundreds of sports watchers
just as good fried with hot sauce for humans
and the natural prey of the cat
almost certifiably insane
when rats are abundant, making themselves a known nuisance in everyone’s yards
and this kind of a food system,
what I’d like to break free from
not subject any living creature in my care to dealing with,
is considered rational and normal.
They’ve just added a new mental illness to the big psychiatric diagnosis book
under the category of eating disorders
when people want organic and healthy food
question the source of where and how its made
make sure its not ever handled with callous disregard
and if the ugliest rodent on earth could help us break free
stop trusting in processed foods and international trade
that sends it all away
by presenting itself as a dubious source of protein
in the hands of manufacturers not yet seen as crooked as they are
on every single level imaginable
and also as a species appropriate food source
for animals nature evolved to be its predators
maybe this year of the monkey business
is actually the year of the rat
thanks to China being allowed to make us processed food
from real chicken
and choosing not to send it back
instead sending rat.

(the corporation referred to is Nestle)

Get the most out of your nuts

If you want to get the most out of the nuts you buy for your food

Milk them first

I just made an awesome new discovery in the quest for independence, in things I can do for myself, easily if not inexpensively. But to the cost effective idea, if you are going to make any food recipe that calls for ground nuts, such as hazelnut cake, almond cake, almond resent cookies or mushroom nut loaf, you may want to get the most out of your nuts by milking them first, then grinding and using in your favorite recipe.

Soaked and ground nuts also make a great, high protein, high fiber meat substitute that gives one most of the satisfaction of having eaten heartily of flesh. It is not a quirk of language that the inner flesh of nuts is called “meat” and “flesh”

All you do is this: Soak 1 cup of nuts, or whatever amount your other recipe calls for overnight in water. Rinse twice. Peel the nuts if you so desire. (the peel on almonds and hazelnuts can sometimes add a hint of a bitter flavour)

Then you whip up the nuts in a blender with 1 liter or 4 cups of water until the liquid looks milky. At this point you may want to add any flavours you want, like a bit of maple syrup, honey or vanilla. Or coco if you want chocolate nut milk. A nutritious flavor I recommend is amazake, a sweet and creamy thick substance made from fermented brown rice which is its own delicious drink, that contains no sugar and tastes like a milkshake. (recipe for that to come).
Strain the nuts out with a cheesecloth lined sieve over a bowl. Mash the nut meal against the screen of the sieve to get all the precious milk out of it and to dry the nut meal as much as possible, since most recopies assume the ground nuts being added will be dry.

You may want to carefully toast the nut crumbs in an oven on lowest heat or in a dry cast iron pan stirring constantly to have dry nut meal, and a toasted flavour. This needs to be done cautiously because it is even easier to burn in this state. Or just use as is. I have with great success.

This easy and straightforward recipe is something I wish I’d known about years ago. Think of all the money I wasted buying nut milk and grinding nuts for baking separate. All the helicopter cargo space wasted on tetra packs of almond milk, all the landfill contributions of blue tetra packs that our local store will not accept as returns for recycling. If only I had known how easy it was to make almond milk. A wise storekeeper from my favorite food store, Yellow Dog on Quadra Island, once tried to tell me, but the knowledge did not sink in…
Almonds and a lot of other tree nuts are becoming more and more expensive as the supply dwindles and the demand stays the same due to severe multi year droughts in places where they are grown. So if you are buying almonds for cooking, get the most out of them by milking them too.

Wheat free Turkey stuffing

So here it is, Canadian Thanksgiving weekend already. Time to become aware of gratitiude for your life, and all within it. Including the land it takes place in. A thoughtful kind of holiday. I spent it at home this year with family. A great many Thanksgivings of my adult life, it has not been so.

In my life, it was often in the middle of Chum salmon fishing, when there was only a few days to get out and make our living, the last chance to make any money before it shut down for the winter. As a deckhand on a troller, cooking was mostly my responsibility. I often made Thanksgiving Day pie in the diesil oven in between pulling 10 – 20 pound chums in, some of which I would keep and smoke. Or we ate it after dark, during the long evenings at anchor, some of which are incredibly stormy at this time of year. Sometimes I would make it, then put my raingear back on, go out and gut a couple of hundred fish while it was cooking, in the dark, under the glow of deck lights.

This year the Thanksgiving weeked was rainy and stormy, reminding me of times when we trolled close to shore in areas that were sheltered from the southeast, and couldn’t have gone home for the holiday even if we wanted to. The one dish meal version of this recipie is authentic fishboat cusine of the inside troller. The basis of it can be used for stuffing a chicken or turkey.

 

To make the stuffing, you soak millet and oat groats overnight. Dump water and rinse to remove anti nutreints from the grain and eleminate the need for pre boiling. Saute onion and celery in real butter. Add sage leaves and dried cranberries. Add the grains and some home made stock cubes, perferable from chicken or turkey, but meat ones made from boiled bones will also work. If you lack these, add some powdered vegetable stock. As well as add poultry seasoning and hot smoked paprika. I aslo add some wild mushroom powder if I have it or chopped mushrooms, and either some hemp hearts or hazelnut crumbs.

Let simmer in the pan until grains are chewy but soft, then stuff it into your turkey or chicken.

When I lived alone, or when I was out on the fishboat for Thanksgiving weekend catching chum salmon in the Johnstone Straights, I made this when I had chicken or turkey pieces. I called it Thanksgiving Day Pie

I layered some sliced potatoes and yams in the pot, then the chicken or turkey pieces, then a layer of the stuffing, with some sliced carrots and onions for a vegetable, and a little thin layer of either stuffing to get crispy ontop or soft mash potatoes. Then bake in the oven, around 1 hour, but ovens differ, and if you are using a diesil oven on a boat, turn it around once, so both sides bake close to where the fire is.

Gift of water from the sky

 

 

We finally had 2 days of beautiful cooling rain after living for weeks in the scortching smoky shadows of a devistating forest fire season affecting all of western Canada, and a drought which extends all the way down to California. I have been coming up with ways to save and reuse water, keeping the gardens and friut trees watered at the same time. People who live in an area with some of the most generous rainfall in Canada normally do not have to think about such things, but even rainforests have their dry seasons. Even the city of Toffino has water shortages sometimes.

The problem is, when people are used to seeing heavy rainfall regularly, they don’t prepare for times when it dissapears from the sky for months on end.

I grew up in the praries. Most houses had 45 gallon drums at the end of their downspouts. This water was used for watering gardens. Here on the west coast, blue and white plastic barrels regularly wash up on the beaches intact. I am surprised to see how few of them are being used to collect and store rainwater. All you have to do is install a through hull fitting at the bottom of the aproximate size of a garden hose, a short length of hose and a valve at the end to convinently fill your buckets and watering cans. You put a fitted screen over the top of the barrel, and some tight fitting plastic for when its full to stop both mosquitos and evaporation.

In this particularly dry summer, I have not had to skimp too much on bathing, providing I re use the water. Since I use non toxic bathing and cleaning products, this does not add anything nasty to my gardens and plants. I use soap alternitives, such as the coconut oil scrub and epsom salts scrub I make and sell at our local farmers market. Even these are used in small amounts. I clean the tub out after with baking soda, which is also not harmful if some traces of it end up in my garden.

Many old houses in the country that I grew up around had a sink drain straight out the wall from their kitchen to a flower and herb bed that was directly watered with the day’s dishwater. People moved their washing machines outside during the summer months, so the laundry water watered their lawn and shrubs. People also had cisterns to store water when it was plentiful and deep ponds in their yards, called a “dugout” that collected water for irrgiating crops. People involved in growing things on the often dry praries appreciated rain for the gift that it is and did not take it for granted.

Here, our community garden is watered out of a well, and there have been restrictions on its use since the end of May. My action of collecting rainwater in a garbage can half dug into the ground in the center of my plot was once a controverstial action that my neighbors complained about. Now its absolutly essential to the well being of my food plants to supplement the limited watering we are allowed from the hoses every couple of days. I irrigate individual squash and tomato plants with 2liter plastic cider bottles, with a pinhole in the bottom and the lid screwed on loosly. Or I buy plant watering spikes to screw on where the lid goes. 5 gallon buckets with a through hull, hose barb, valve and short lengths of soaker hose can be used to keep raised beds watered and productive using captured reused water from your household. Lush gardens and plant life need not become a thing of the past in a dry summer providing it uses water that was just destined to go down the drain anyway, into septic or sewer pipes.

Smoothies in the Heat

There is a heat wave that has been going on for week, unusual at this time of year, but it happens occasionally

My husband is the one and and only cook most of the time at a busy pub right beside a baking hot ashphalt ferry dock on the island where we live. Sometimes he doesn’t get time to take breaks to eat properly and sustain his energy and rehydrate himself during the summer when the kitchen is busy and tempurtures in the kitchen sometimes reach 120 degrees. To keep him from becoming too depelted during such times when people really love their deep fried food, I make him this clean, cold energizing smoothie chilled in the freezer and brought to him right in the heat of the moment. He says it revives him…

 

Pomegranite plum and beet smoothie.

 

1 part canned beets with the juice… one part fermented canned plums. These are sweet Italian plums canned with a little bit of sea salt, before I learned about fermenting for the salt pickled plums I was after, a little bit of Chinese 5 spice, pomegranite molasas and water….

You whip it up in the blender, and put in freezer for 15-20 minutes, until near freezing. The flavors combine sweet, salty and tart. A teaspoon of spirulina adds protien and a green flavour, a teaspoon of honey adds a touch of sweetness to it.

Get Rid of Rodents without Harming their Preditors

 We all want to be rat free in our home life, but we don’t want to harm the most magestic birds of prey that grace our skies with their beautiful presence.

In the Homegrown adventure, sometimes you may have to deal with house guests that are not welcome and not invited. You know the type, the visitor who moves in with you, hoping their presence will go undetected until they start wrecking your belongings, eating your food, waking you up at night, and making a mess. They may even make you sick or kill you, they may accidentally cause fires and floods to your home. I am taking about our little buddies here, the rodents. Like a nemesis pet gone amok, the presence of rodents makes us explore our cruel side, even if we believe in being humane to animals.

The temptation is there to do anything, whatever it takes to get rid of the little bastards. This is where we must think carefully. Rodents exist for a reason, even the really ugly and nasty ones. They exist to provide food to the majestic and culturally iconic birds of prey, such as eagles, hawks and owls. They provide hours of entertainment for cats and dogs, and the occasional snack. There are hundreds of animals who depend on the rodent population for their day to day food supply, and that is why it is unwise to poison them.

However, using a fake poison can rid your home of the unwanted pests without harming them or their predators. I am talking about getting a restaurant supply sized bag of cyanne pepper, the hottest and strongest you can get, and laying down a 2 inch wide strip of it outside of any holes or obvious rodent walkways and trails. Their noses will sting, they will become afraid and perceive that they are being poisoned, which will cause them to leave the area. They will walk through it and lick their paws, and experience cyanne pepper in their mouths, which gives them the idea that this is not a place to live or eat in. Which gets them out of your house, sheds or areas that they are causing problems in. When a rodent becomes sick or suffers averse effects of a substance, the tendancy is for the animal to go outside. It may be less aware of its surroundings, and an easier target for its preditors. This is how commercially avaialble rodent poisons end up killing your beloved pets and helpful preditors who would keep the rodent populations down if warfrin wasn’t also killing them off in a secondary posioning effect.

Next step up is the scaring device. If you have 110 plugs available, get some sonic deterrents, they put out a high pitched sound that humans and pets are not bothered by, but is unbearable to rodents. (unless of course, your pet is one of the small rodents closely related to mice and rats, then the sonic device will tourture your pet. The rats and mice can leave the premisis, in fact, that’s why your doing this, to get them to go.)

You can make a home made live trap with a large garbage can. Put a stick across the top of it, a thin and flimsy little stick. Put a can with peanut butter smeared on it on the stick, and a ramp to the rim of the garbage can. The rat or mouse walks out onto the stick attracted by the peanut butter and then the can tips them into the bucket. In the bottom of the bucket, they will squeak, attracting their buddies to come and see what is happening. The end result is you have a garbage can with all the rats or mice in the place inside it, live. You can do whatever you want with them. Relocate them to uninhabited areas, or to your local politicians office for natures very own file shredder. Should you want a large supply of rats and mice, here’s how to get them. If you don’t want to deal with live rodents, just put 12 inches of water in the bottom of the garbage can.

There are the usual array of live traps and snap traps available that are not poisonous to rodent’s predators as well, but the fake poison of cyanne pepper and the sonic scarers work really well. The garbage can trap does too.

 

 

 

Our Empathy, a precious resource

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Is your personal empathy being depleated by the media?

Empathy is important, here’s why.

I check out the headlines of the few major newspapers that still reach my island whenever I am at the store. They are soon to be discontinued because of printing being outsourced and not able to be delivered on the day of relevance. I ‘m sure they will contain numerous stories in which they will continue to report statistics of more unemployment, more outsourcing of our jobs to foregin countries. But for now, they are still here. Yesterday’s cover story featured a huge front page photo of a man’s bloody and beaten face. I turned away from it, the headline was about “why we pay to watch men fight.”

Call me old fashioned, if you will, but one of the reasons I prefer newspapers and journalism for news stories as opposed to TV is that they are not zooming in and sensationalizing the gory details of every story. Radio news works for me too. I want to know what happened, but I don’t want to feel it in my heart that much. I don’t want to lose sleep over it because maybe I’m one of the few people left who still feel empathy. I also don’t want to lose this quality being de sensitized to the experience of my fellow human beings by constantly watching and looking at gory photos of a wounded fellow person and then having to expunge it from my consciousness in order to unwind from the experiance, to feel good and be effective in my place in the world, regardless of what horrible tragedy happens elsewhere that I can do nothing to stop or help.

Is this empathy? When I can’t help but look at a picture of a wounded person and for a split second imagine vividly what it may feel like to be them. Its a tiny little charge of pain and horror that it adds to my day, to my consciousness, that must later be removed. I wonder why this emotion continues to exist at odds with what I see all around me. It seems like empathy just brings you down, makes you unable to handle what everyone else is into, makes you long for some kind of sheltered life instead of fully participating. So you may ask why is empathy important?
I have techniques to remove the horror from the core of my being where it penetrates when I sympathize or empathize with another human being. It takes a while. I have to do some Tai Chi, walk in nature, meditate, but why do I need this in order to deal with the world?

A lot of people are not so aware, so sensitive. They would think me extreme. People watch gory news everyday, some the moment they wake up, some just before bed. The newspaper published that gruesome painful photo because its competing with the internet where news stories zoom in on the pain and the horror in great detail. This is not a movie with special effects, this is a real human being’s suffering. In fact, the mass appeal of movies declines in favor of reality tv, documentries showing it all, and sensational daily news.

I think the newspaper could have a decent market for their product if they refrained from sensationalizing the gory details of pain and suffering on their front page, if they stood out from all the internet media and tv media showing us the same old gruesome photos. There’s got to be others like me, who want to save their empathy for the people they actually encounter in real life and not have it colonized by the media through the effort of trying to keep yourself informed. If I see pain and suffering, I want my empathy in tact to motivate me to help the other person like the decent human being that I really am inside. That is why I do not want to become desensitized to violence and suffering by seeing it so much that I have to tune it out in order not to be adversely affected.

I heard about a phenomena that is happening more and more at the scenes of disasters and accidents. People with their smart phones in there taking photos, not heroically rescuing the people caught in the tragic situation, but taking selfies with themselves standing next to the carnage, the disaster of the day, trivialized to a background by having TV news on three times a day on the regular channels and 24/7 on the news channels. Everyone wants to be the first to post it on Face book, be a reality TV star or something. This is a serious loss of a valuable part of human nature. Empathy evolved for a reason. The emotional sting when you see blood, or when you hear screaming, or when you look at tragedy is meant to motivate behavior. The ability to tune it out is meant for a reason too, such as what happens in times of wars when it becomes necessary to survive. This is not meant to be our everyday experience from the first awareness of childhood, tuning out our natural born empathy in order to participate in a world increasingly bombarding us with real horrific haunting images colonizing our brains where the urge to help people should be.
I’m not suggesting to tune out all news. We do need to know about the violence and tragedy occurring in the world, along with other developments. But we do not need to encounter it in a way that uses up a limited and precious resource within us. That’s why I prefer radio news. It takes 5 minutes to inform me of what would take an hour to watch on TV. That way I can have a concept of the big picture of whats happening without invading the space of a single person’s moment of trauma. That way I can avoid having my precious limited supply of empathy depleted on strangers far away that I will never be able to help, and have it intact to motivate me into action for the people whom I encounter in real life. This is why I say that empathy must be treated as a precious resource within us by being selective, instead of de sensitized.

Feel free to leave comments if this interests you. Its catagorized in Homegrown Health and Homegrown Success, because part of being a successful human being is having some empathy, otherwise you’d just be one more psycopath.

Your empathy is precious, don’t let it be colonized or stolen from your heart and brain.

Here is another article for further reading about Empathy and what it is on another blog

http://www.elephantjournal.com/2015/04/what-it-means-to-be-an-empath/

Cooking with Stinging Nettles

At this time of year, on the west coast of BC, a lot of people, myself included pick and use stinging nettles as a super food, high in vitamins. Seriously. We do. The sting in stinging nettles is caused by tiny hairs on the plant, which no longer sting after the nettle is dried or cooked.

Some people use nettles for tea, they boil the nettle and then drink the water. I prefer stinging nettle as a vegetable, not unlike spinach, but with a more potent, wild flavor. I love the stinging nettle, it is one of the first foods available in spring. As the winter storms blow endlessly on, with driving wind and rain, we go to beaches to watch the big waves smashing driftwood into smithereens along the shoreline, and I watch the bushes and roadsides intently for that first sign of spring, the stinging nettles, poking their way up from the ground. The first shoots are the best. I pick them until they become tough, sometime in May. I pick only the tops once they grow big though, or selectively harvest individual leaves. The stems become excessively tough and were once used to make fibers and rope that was of strong, durable quality. You can see how this happened if you attempt to cook and eat them at this point.
I have made nettle beer, which is supposed to be medicinal and healthy. I didn’t like it very much and ended up giving most of it away. This recipe, along with a lot of information about the value of nettles is in Susan Weed’s wise woman herb book.

One of the most basic things I did during my years on the road as a teenager was dry both nettles and dandelion greens to make my often convenient and instant, cheap food a little more nutritional and flavorful. I made a sort of spice blend for the various types of Kraft dinner and instant noodles I was eating at the time, with nettle flakes, dandelion greens, engavita yeast flakes, Parmesan cheese and cyanne pepper. This was my universal noodle spice. I carried it in my purse and added it to bland soups and sandwiches, or the many bowls of instant Mr Noodles I was stuck eating during this era of my life. Anyway, the dishes I make with stinging nettles and pasta have evolved significantly since those hard times when I was just setting out on the independent roads of life and my choices to have wild vegetables and greens came about because I could neither afford, nor store, the regular kind.

These days, I make stinging nettle lasagna, and stinging nettle spanakopita, stinging nettle dip and stinging nettle soups. But dried stinging nettle leaves are a staple in my food supply and I dry large amounts each year to sprinkle into soups, sauces and just about everything, adding a super green food that has A, B, C, E, F K and P, as well as trace mineral your body needs like iron, zinc, magnesium, potassium and silica.

To dry nettles, spread them on screens near your stove, heat registers or with a space heater blowing over them, or in the sun. You could put them in the racks of your dehydrator until the hairs no longer sting and the leaves can be crumpled into flakes by hand. Store in shaker bottles for convienent use. If it is out and easy to use, you will find yourself adding it to dishes where it will be good.

To harvest nettles, find a patch and go when the patch has grown to about knee height with some smaller nettles coming up. Wear gloves and use scissors. You can pick nettles with your hands, and by breaking off the stem under the first 4 leaves, but it is more likely that you will pull up the whole plant by the roots using this method and kill it, we don’t really want to do that. Stems left in the ground will regrow another top and live to bear their seeds, thus not depleting the nettle patch with your careful harvesting. Cut the top leaves off of every 5th plant at the most. This is especially important if you are picking nettles in an urban or well populated area where there may be other people wanting nettles from the same patch, and it is respectful to the plant and group of plants living its life. It is also of utmost importance if the nettle patch is quite small and thinned out. But there are lots of places where there are miles of nettles in all directions, so one rarely needs to pick from a patch that is sparse where this would be a problem.

To cook the nettles, put 1 inch of water in a saucepan with a lid. Turn on the heat and stuff in as many nettles as you can fit in the pot and put the lid down. The nettles steam in the pot with just a little bit of water. They shrink to half their size. You can add more nettles after they shrink to ensure you have enough to make what you would like. Be sure not to let it boil dry.

If you would like more “nettle tea” which is essentially what the water you steam your nettles in becomes, you may add more water. Boiling your rice, noodles or potatoes in nettle tea gives some of the flavour and some of the vitamins present in the nettles to the other food being cooked. Pasta may take on a green tint, but valuable vitamins are being added. However, if your nettles are picked near a road, you may want to discard this tea and not use it. The steaming process cleans the nettles, but what it cleaned off of them will be in the water.
Rinse the nettles off once they are steamed, after about 4 or 5 minutes, chop them up and use as you would for spinach, except that the flavor is a lot stronger than spinach.

Here is a recipie

Parmesan nettles,

Steam a pot full of stinging nettles, reserving water for boiling pasta if clean.

Saute in a pan garlic and oinion in olive oil mixed with another cooking oil of a higher temperture rating, such as sunflower or grapeseed oil.
Add cooked nettles and saute in the now garlic and onion flavored oil for about 5 to 10 minutes, meanwhile, boil pasta in nettle water, with oil and salt added. I recommend spaghetti or vermicelli for this dish.

Add salt and pepper to the pan with your nettles,
In a bowl mix up some wine with yoghourt and Parmesan cheese. Mix in nutritional yeast flakes and cyanne pepper to taste.
When the pasta is done, rinse it off under cold water and then add to sauteing mixture. Save some of the nettle water in case additional liquid is needed.
Add the pasta to the sauteing mixture.
At this point, capers, if you have them could be added.
A splash of wine would be a good idea in the sauteing pan at this time, either red or white, whichever you may happen to be sipping on as you cook. If you are not having wine, a good balsamic vinegar would be appropriate in the dish here as well. (even if wine is present, it is still good to use both)
Mix the pasta with the nettles, garlic and oil. Then add the yoghourt Parmesan mixture and mix it in so that each noodle is coated with it, adding wine and the nettle pasta water as necessary so nothing is getting burnt or sticking to the bottom. A dash of oregano at this point is a good idea as well.
Turn off the heat and let it sit covered for 5 minutes so the flavors can mix.

Dish it up in plates or bowls. This is Parmesan Nettles, the fine delicacy of a dish that evolved out of the humble beginnings of my survival food on the road of instant noodles with nettle Parmesan sprinkles. It is exquisite with a side dish of garlic oil fried spot prawns fresh from the traps, but stands up well on its own.

Feel free to try this dish and comment on what you think of it, or share stories of your own experiances with the mighty stinging nettle in the comments section below.

Introducing the Probiotic Perogy

  Here’s a concept I bet you’ve never tried before. Sourdough perogies

In my enthusiasm for making my food healthier, and especially for making my favorite refined flour foods healthier by using sourdough starter and fermenting processes, I decided to try something different with that challenging food, the home made perogy. I searched the internet for a recipe, to no avail. Perogies are a lot of work to make. In fact, previously I only ever attempted to make perogies once a year, to honour my Ukrainian heritage at Ukrainian Christmas. But I am embracing  married life with more domestic activities, perogy making included.

I fed my pet the other day. (My nickname for my sourdough starter, “the pet”) When I divided it in half, the half I needed to use up went towards making the perogy dough. I mixed it with some sour cream, and hydrated it well. I let it sit out for a few hours. Then I mixed some flour in. the proportions are you begin stirring the flour in with a spatula and end up mixing it all by hand until its absorbed.

I then covered the dough with freezer paper and let it sit for 24 hours in a cool place, but I didn’t refrigerate it. Some fermentation should take place, but slowly. We don’t need perogy dough to rise. We just want the flour mixture to become pro-biotic, easier to digest, and have sourdough flavor.

The next day, make the filling.

The filling I made was my unique take on a traditional perogy flavor. I mixed dill, cottage cheese, dried onion flakes, a pinch of chili garlic salt with some hemp hearts and dried nettle flakes. This enhances the nutritional value of the perogies as well as the flavour, as nettles are a vitamin filled veggie, and hemp hearts have protein and omega 6 in them. It also makes the perogies into a complete protein, so as a meal, they will be complete all on their own. Using dried onion and dried nettle absorbs some of the excess moisture present in the cottage cheese so the perogies will not be soggy and the filling will not sog out through the dough.

To make the perogies you roll out the dough. I find it helpful to roll out dough between 2 pieces of parchment paper. It saves on the mess created on your counter, and is also easier to get it off of if it sticks. Sprinkle a little flour to help keep it from sticking. Roll it out as thin as you can get it. Perogies with really thin skin are the best. This dough allows for a texture that will stand up to being rolled out and stretched quite thin, resulting in a delicious perogy that is not too doughy or thick.

Cut some squares in the dough once it is rolled out.

Each square will be one perogy. You stretch the dough out a little more in an individual square. Then carefully place a spoonful of the filling in the center of the square. Fold one edge over diagonal so that the square becomes a triangle over the filling. Then seal the edges by squishing the dough closed over the filling. You have now, a perogy. The shape is not so important as this part of the process. To pinch and twist the dough so the filling will not come out during cooking.

Bring a pot of water to a boil with a little bit of oil in it and salt.

When it is boiling, gently lower 4 or 5 perogies into the water. Stir immediately with a slotted or holy spoon. Notice how they sink When they begin to float, take them out of the water with the slotted or holy spoon. Place in an oiled dish. Avoid cooking too many perogies at once. My tester batch of this recipie made 24 perogies. They are best gently fried with onions immediately after boiling, and served with sour cream, or Balkan style plain yogurt for the health concious.

Or you can freeze them on a cookie sheet and have pre cooked perogies that you can fry up later. This was my first ever batch of sourdough perogies, and I will be defiantly trying this again soon. It was worth the time and effort, the results were spectacular, and made a satisfying meal all on their own. We had these for dinner on Good Friday.

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