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Hello world

17 May

Hello again

On Grilling Halibut

19 Jul

My oldest son brought me a big bag of halibut steaks and some king crab legs for my freezer (fresh from the water!) I love king crab but haven’t quite had the nerve to tackle cooking it yet. BUT! I’ve grilled halibut twice now and both times it has been fantastic. All I did was heat the grill up fairly hot, wipe the grating with a little olive oil on a paper towel, and drop the halibut onto it. Five minutes on the first side, then scoop it up and flip it, and five on the second side. I washed a couple potatoes and carrots and put them straight on the grill about ten minutes before the fish and just rolled them over once or twice. A little asparagus again for a green veggie (I need some other ideas). When I pulled the halibut off, I dotted a little butter on it to melt and grated some garlic pepper seasoning over it, then let it sit for a few minutes while the vegatables finished cooking. I love veggies cooked on the grill. The potatoes get a crisp skin and a steamy middle and the flavor is so yummy. It was quick and simple and cleanup is next to nothing with the grill. You just burn off anything left, brush the grates with the wire brush and you’re good to go!

I can’t believe I have settled for fast food and premade food for so many years. This is so much better.

The little voice in the back of my head is going, “yeah but…aren’t you supposed to get cancer from grilling?” I’m sticking my fingers in my ears and singing “la la la.” I’ll look into that …later.

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This week was second son’s birthday and he wanted a cherry pie instead of cake. Cherries are !!!! $7.99 !!!! a pound at the grocery store right now. Regular cherries! Not organic! In season!!!! So! Freezer section. Frozen dark cherries are still spendy but not as bad as fresh and I refuse to even look at the canned kind. Okay, that’s a lie–I did look at the canned cherry pie filling to see a) what was in it and b) how much cherries you need for a pie. But I didn’t buy it.

I did however, buy a nice set of pie crusts. Or rather pie crust dough, the kind that is already rolled out for you and ready by the cookie dough in the refrigerated section of the store. So sue me.

Cherry pie, turns out, is incredibly easy to make. Dump a bag and a half of frozen dark cherries in a sauce pan, add about a third cup of sugar, a half teaspoon of lemon juice, and three tablespoons of cornstarch. Stir until bubbly and thick (mine took about 8 minutes). Roll out (or unroll in my case) the first crust and put in the pie plate with the edges hanging over. Pour the cherry goodness into the plate.  Cut the second crust into roughly half inch strips and criss-cross them over the filling, folding back alternate strips to weave a lattice pattern. Then roll the lower crusts edges over the ends of the lattice strips and pinch it into a pretty zigzag fluting all around. I forgot that I was supposed to dot some butter on top of the filling before the top crust went on, so instead I melted some and drizzled it over the top crust. I skipped brushing the crust with eggs or milk or whatever was supposed to happen, and instead I sprinkled a little sugar over the whole thing for a finish. 400 degree oven for twenty minutes, pull it out and wrap some foil loosely around the edges so they don’t burn, back in the oven for another 20-30 minutes and viola!!! It was gor-gee-ous!!! After singing happy birthday, we ate it hot with Breyers vanilla ice cream. The crust, despite its non-homemade status, was very very good.

Three things I will do next time: 1. Try skipping the cornstarch (or using much less) and just let it be juicy. The filling was a little too thick, I think. But otherwise delish. 2. Use my beautiful hand-thrown ceramic pie plate that I bought at a fundraiser for kids with disabilities several years ago and forgot I had. 3. Take a picture!! What was I thinking?

Someday when I’m rich (or if prices ever return to normal) I’ll try it with fresh cherries. Sounds so good. Prices are so ridiculous right now. This morning I bought one nectarine, organic, and didn’t look at the price first. $1.50! For one nectarine! And its summer. It’s so depressing–but the nectarine was delicious.

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On the health front, major progress: (TMI warning here! Skip over the next if you don’t want to read girl hygiene stuff!)

For the last ten or fifteen years my period has been horribly, unmanagably heavy and long. Always a mess. I double up pads or use depends just to control it. This last week it was ———– normal. Normal! Light, easy, no leaks, no fuss. I can’t remember the last time it was that way. Well before the birth of my youngest at least, who is now 10 years old. Now I am pushing menopause age, so it could be that, but it seems an awfully big co-inkydink to me. I think my body is really responding to the changes I’ve made over this last month and beginning to heal. Thanks to God!

If it stays this way, I want to try using washable cloth pads instead of paper products from the store. Might be a lot of work, but maybe worth it. The bleach and processing chemicals used in paper sanitary products is supposed to be another contributor to estrogen dominence, so it might be another step back to health.

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Finally started my laundry soap experiment. I’m still not out of the store bought stuff, but I got out the bar of fels-naptha and ground it up. I couldn’t find my cheese grater–the boys have apparently found some other use for it–so I took a knife and shaved it down and then just crunched up the shavings with my fingers until I had a course powder. Might be easier if I froze it or chilled it first, but I wonder if that would affect its dissolvability at all? Anyway. That gets mixed with some washing soda and borax and used liked a powdered detergent. I’m a little worried about soap buildup in my washer and on the clothes, and wondering if it will dissolve and rinse away easily. I was describing my venture to a friend who has triplet toddlers, and she said she used fels-naptha on her baby clothes and they still looked brand new when she passed them on. She thought I should melt it into a liquid, but I’m going to give this powder formula a try first. I think it might be easier for my kids to manage when they help with laundry. The fels-naptha has a strong scent. My house smells very soapy now.

About that organic stuff

3 Jul

Here’s a surprise for me. I’ve never been particularly interested in buying organic meats and produce. It’s priced higher and usually looks kind of beat up so not very appealing. But what I bought the last couple of weeks tastes amazing. It’s so much more flavorful than what I’ve been used to. Fruits and veggies are firm and juicy and the meat I’ve bought is tender. I wasn’t expecting to like it so much more. It’s hard on the wallet though, so I’m buying smaller quantities. Quality over quantity, that’s my new motto.

At the market in Jerusalem.

A seller at the market in Jerusalem. This photo was taken by my friend Gina.

I should mention that I am in Alaska, so although there is good local staple produce in season (potatos, carrots, lettuce, etc.), most of what we eat gets shipped from a long way away.

I visited Israel 18 months ago with a group of friends, and one of the first things we were struck by was how wonderful the food was. Everything tasted better than at home. Their tomatoes were the best I’ve ever eaten. And it just occurred to me that the organic produce I’ve been eating tastes like what we had in Israel.

Staying on track…

2 Jul

It’s been a few weeks now. I’ve been doing pretty good…(okay, AMAZINGLY good for me)…staying on track. I think what is surprising me the most is that my energy level is at a consistantly much higher level. I actually went outside and spent a few hours working on my yard, which I’ve pretty much ignored for the last two summers. I’ve also got the carpet and pad pulled up, staples cleared, and everything ready to go to start laying wood in one of my downstairs bedrooms. We started replacing all of our carpets SIX YEARS ago. Got the upstairs done and the downstairs 70% done and then we petered out and never got the will to start again ’til now. This bedroom is the last major space to do (another bedroom has a few more rows to finish and the space under the stairs is half laid. Once that’s down, I may see if I can scrape together enough money to pay someone to come sand it and put the finish on. The upstairs took us weeks to sand. It’s brazilian cherry and hard as a rock.

I also am happy again. I was pretty cheerful and optimistic as a kid and a young adult, but over the last 15 or 20 years, I turned into a grouch. Everything upset me and I felt depressed and frustrated over every little thing. Honestly, I feel like I’m waking up after a lot of years of sleep-walking.

I’ve discovered that I have to avoid caffeine, tea, and soda. I’ve completely gone off coffee, and only had a small amount of soda twice in the weeks since I started. Tea is a little harder, but I bet I’ve cut my intake to a quarter or less of what I was drinking.

I’ve had three setbacks:  First was with too much tea one day. Wound up drained and tired. The next was a few days ago, cleaning a desk with a commercial cleaning spray that I’ve used for years and years. The smell was really strong and I had a gut check about using it but did anyway. The next day I felt as bad as I ever had–lethargic, bloated, cranky, tired. The last was a couple nights ago when I ate out a restaurant with my honey. Had a steak, broccoli, mashed potatoes, and a piece of french bread. Shared a brownie with my husband and drank water, but later that evening my ankles and feet were swollen and I couldn’t fall asleep all night. I wonder if the steak had msg or something? The good thing was that in all these cases, I went back to my plan and felt better again within two or three days. What a relief!!! I am LOVING this.

I must figure out what to do with my hair though. It’s shoulder length and blonde (greying). I’ve been trying to wash it using just baking soda dissolved in water, followed by a vinegar rinse. It feels soft and doesn’t look greasy when it is dry, but doesn’t feel smooth and sleek like I like. I can’t go back to using stuff with sodium laurel sulfate. But I haven’t liked any of the brands I’ve tried from the nutrition department so far.

Next step is laundry soap. I picked up a bar of fels naptha, some washing soda, and a box of borax. I’m going to try the powdered laundry soap recipes I’ve found online. Soon.

Better already!

13 Jun

I was shocked to wake up this morning feeling good. Joints aren’t stiff. Ankles not swollen. I didn’t need a long nap after work. And I was down 3 pounds on the scale from last week (water definately.) I wasn’t expecting to notice any change for a couple weeks at least. It’s only been 3 days!

Hope this is not just a fluke!

Tried the castille soap in the shower this morning, and it ain’t gonna work. I love the peppermint smell, but can’t stand the followup soap smell. And it leaves a film so didn’t like it on my hair. So instead, I tried stirring some baking soda into a thing of water and pouring that on my head, followed by a vinegar rinse. It really didn’t do much. Maybe I’ll try eggs.

Since Friday, no coffee. A tall cup of iced tea on Friday and a small one today. No McD’s or Taco Bell. Skipped breakfast (slept late) and had a burrito from qdoba for lunch.

Picked up organic, no hormone chicken at Natural Pantry after work and it is on the grill along with red potatoes. i’ll cook some more asparagus too. I’m sure we’ll be sick of that real soon, but for now its yummy and I haven’t figured out what else to cook yet.

Organic bananas and strawberries for dessert.

I need to come up with some lunch ideas so we can brown bag it.

Didn’t get sun today. Still need to pick up the viola. I think I’ll get to bed at a reasonable time tonight too.

It’s good!!!!

Notes from today…

13 Jun

hamburger patty (no bread)

cheddar cheese

red potato

yam

asparagus

butter (hormone free)

romaine lettuce

ice water

Out of money, so I’ll have to scrounge tomorrow

back to viola practice tomorrow

also tomorrow–enough cave. get some sun.

So far…

12 Jun

So friday I set out on a shopping trip. I have very little money at the moment, so have to be careful what I spend it on. There are two stores I thought I’d try–New Sagaya, which has lots of asian foods, a big fresh seafood dept, harris ranch beef and a good produce section. I went into new sagaya feeling like I didn’t know what i was doing and wished I had someone to say “go here!” “buy this!” I didn’t find any meat labeled organic and just a small organic section. So I bailed. Went to Natural Pantry. Ah! EVERYTHING was organic! Meat all labeled hormone free. Potatoes covered with burlap sacks to protect them from light. I bought steaks, red potatoes, asparagus, romaine lettuce, and yams. Also got some borax which I will use (when I get the other ingredients) to try making homemade laundry soap, and some castille soap. Stopped by the gas station for some propane for my grill.

My son cooked the steaks, and I washed the potatoes and asparagus and rolled them in oil. (Didn’t have olive oil, so used veg oil–something to fix next time.) The steaks were almost done so I microwaved the potatoes, then put them on the grill to finish up. I’ve never cooked asparagus before, but I just laid it on the grill. I turned them when the skins got bubbly, and took them off when they bent easily. And TAH DAH! Everything was delicious. Just salt and pepper for seasoning and some butter. A successful first try.

No coffee since thursday. Was going to skip iced tea, but bought it Friday after all. I like getting a large cup of it with ice all the way to the top at lunch and having it on my desk all afternoon. Keeps me alert. But according to some of what I read online, I need to stop with the tea. I’m going to look further into that. If I really need to cut it out, maybe I’ll do lemons in ice water or something.

Tried the castille soap on my hands. It has a nice peppermint smell. Lathered up very nicely, but once the peppermint smell wore off, there was still a strong soap smell, which I am completely adverse to. (found out that is yet another symptom.) I rinsed and rinsed my hands and finally sprinkled some baking soda on them, which seemed to get the soap off finally. Later, discovered the castille soap needs to be mixed with 10 parts water or something before use.