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Gyotaku is a traditional form of Japanese art that began over 100 years ago as a way for fishermen to keep a record of the fish they caught. They would apply sumi ink to one side of a freshly caught fish, then cover the fish with rice paper and rub to create an exact image of the fish. The ink was non-toxic and allowed for the fish to be processed for eating, while preserving records of fish species and sizes.
These utilitarian prints were incredibly life like. When done properly they retained even subtle patterns and textures of the fish. The relatively simple black ink prints later developed into an art form that added rich colors and environmental details.
– SMITHSONIAN: Education Uses of Gyotaku or Fish Printing
Last week while Larry and i were off on a trip celebrating his birthday, I came across a beautiful book on fish printing in a state park bookstore.
Last week when Larry and I were celebrating his birthday, we spent a lot of time outdoors in wild habitats on the beach and nearby habitats. I loved that we had enough knowledge to identify edibles as we walked.
One memorable trail was very narrow, flanked on both side by tickets of wild raspberry in bloom. How wonderful it will be to hike that trail in June and forage the raspberries!
Over the years one of the things I have discovered is that it is much easier to make meals and recipes from fresh ingredients if those fresh ingredients are prepped in advance and ready to go into a pot or pan or on a plate.
For the past couple of months, I have been making a point for Larry and I to each green salad each day, as many days as it is possible, given our busy schedule. Even though we miss some days each week, overall, we have both seen an improvement in our health and energy and our blood sugar is falling even though we are not strictly on our Rice Diet Revival diet. As a result of this Larry has had to lower the amount of insulin he is taking because he wakes up with his blood sugar too low.
my morning brown-rice-and-fruit and then I realized, “Of course! The sap in the maple trees must be rising!” And I was right on time. I just looked it up online and just about that time there was a flurry of news reports that the maple sap was running.
Though it won’t fully be spring until the Spring Equinox this weekend, we are in a period of time where winter is ending and spring is coming, thus the trees are exacting expressing the activity going on in Nature at this time. I love this.
While almost everyone has eaten the industrial imitation “pancake syrup” made from corn syrup, artificial maple flavor and preservatives, real maple syrup is quite a different thing.
I wrote this some years ago, but I thought of it as I was writing about Spring Equinox. Birds in the wild don’t lay eggs over the winter because it’s too cold for the chicks to survive when they hatch. So finding bird eggs is one of the first signs of spring. I don’t eat many eggs nowadays but in the past I would celebrate spring by eating things like strawberry and ricotta omelets and other egg dishes for a good week after the equinox.
I had been buying local, natural, free-range eggs at the natural food store down the street. They came in a plain white paper carton, with a simple label pasted on. “Hunt and Peck Farms,” read the label. “These ungraded FREE RANGE eggs are hand polished and not washed with detergent. No hormones, antibiotics or animal by-products are added to feed.”
These eggs were delicious, with big bright yellow yolks.
But what was really wonderful for me was that the eggs went into the carton just the way they came from the hen.
On Saturday morning Larry and I went to one of my local farmer’s markets and one farmer had a box of kumquats.
“Larry!” i shrieked. “Come buy these kumquats!” He was holding the two-for-one farmer’s market coupons he receives because he is disabled. Not only does he get money on an account but if we present it at the farmer’s market, we get coupons worth $2 for every $1 he takes from this account.
They reminded me of when I fell in love with kumquats when we live in Florida. I came to love kumquats so much that one year I even went to our local Kumquat Festival in nearby Dade City, which is known as “The Kumquat Capital of the World.” Lucky me!
You may have never even heard of a kumquat if you don’t live in Florida or California. I’m not sure how far and wide they are shipped.
Larry and I love bread but have struggled for years between the desire to eat it and the effect ordinary white bread has on our blood sugar and weight.
When I say “white bread” I’m not limiting this reference to Wonder Bread. So many delicious specialty breads—including our famous local San Francisco Sourdough and all the artisan breads now available—are made from the standard white flour. It may be bleached or unbleached, organic or not, but all grains ground to the consistency of flour elevate blood sugar See Why We Need to Eat Whole Food That is Really Whole for the science on this.
Even bread made with whole wheat flour will elevate our blood sugar because even though all the parts of the wheat are there, they are still ground into flour. It’s the changing of the wholeness of the grain into a powder that makes the difference.
But because you can’t make a sandwich without bread (yes, I know, lettuce leaves, but that’s just not the same), we have been continuously looking for a bread made with actual whole grains.
And we finally found one.
I love the flavor of winter squashes, but find there is a large variation in the nuance of flavor and also ease of preparation. Big winter squashes like butternut and pumpkin can be difficult and dangerous to cut open and can require a long time to bake.
Delicata squash is small, each to cut, delicious, and takes only a short period of time to bake. Cut in small pieces, it’s only 15-20 minutes.
Because the skin is so thin, you don’t have to peel it, which means you can eat the whole squash, skin and all.
First I want to tell you about pumpkins.
Years ago, I used to make anything “pumpkin” with pumpkin, which is winter squash. And then one day I was watching a cooking show on television and it was suggested that one make pumpkin pie with kabocha squash instead because they had more flavor than pumpkin squash. So I immediately went and bought a kabocha squash and made a pumpkin pie, and was very disappointed. I didn’t like the flavor at all [and now in 2020 I made a kabocha squash and LOVED it. So try it. You might like it.]
But that got me thinking. Maybe there was a winter squash that was better than pumpkin for pumpkin recipes, and after trying many I found one: carnival squash. It’s denser than pumpkin, creamier in texture, and sweeter.
Back during the summer I was going through a big shift, and on 23 August I wrote in my journal, “Wow! Something must have shifted because I no longer want to make or eat the Thanksgiving dinner I have loved all my life.” I loved this dinner so much that I would go to great lengths to be able to prepare and eat it, even in difficult circumstances. And now I didn’t want it.
My traditional dinner had evolved over my 65 Thanksgivings…
In 2017 and 2018 I did a lot of research on turkeys when I first moved here to Sonoma County, California. Originally these posts were posted on my debralynndadd.com website where I was writing about toxic-free products. I’ve moved them here.
Last week I wrote a post about choosing my Thanksgiving turkey.
This week I want to give you more information I just received from the Organic Consumers Association about why you shouldn’t buy the standard supermarket turkey.
I did make a decision about my turkey.
Last year I wrote a long post about all the different choices we have for Thanksgiving turkeys.
After doing this research I decided to purchase a locally-grown heritage turkey from a 4H project and wrote about that experience as well at My Thanksgiving Organic Heritage Turkey—A Shining Example of a Toxic Free Product.
This year I am considering my choices yet again.
On 6 November I wrote a whole post about the different types of turkeys availableand announced at the end of the post that I had decided to pre-order a heritage turkey, grown by local Sonoma County 4H club members and sold through the Slow Food Russian River Heritage Turkey Project.
Well I did pre-order that turkey and it was an amazing experience. I went to a local family farm the day before Thanksgiving to pick up my turkey. I wrote a check directly to the farmer. It was the best turkey I have ever eaten. It had a lot more fat, so it was moist and juicy and tasty, but not fatty (it all drips away during roasting). The flavor was turkey x10. And the aroma was incredible. Well worth every dollar.
A couple of nights ago around the dinner table I asked my new family what everyone wanted for Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey, of course, homemade cranberry sauce, and gluten-free cornbread and rice stuffing with wild mushrooms topped the list. Since, as the best cook in the house, I’ll be doing most of the cooking, and we are living in Sonoma County, California—where we actually grow and raise some of the best food on Earth—I started wondering if we could get some kind of special turkey.
So I put together this list of what to look for on the label to help me find the perfect turkey for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner.
This week I had a new experience.
I purchased some dragon’s tongue beans thinking they were shelling beans, but when I tried to shell them, there were only small beans inside like a green bean.
Puzzled, I did some research and found that dragon’s tongue beans can be eaten as green beans, as shelling beans, and as dry beans.
I always thought that apples were a winter fruit, until I moved to Sonoma County California at the end of September 2017 and found that apple season was coming to an end at my local farmers market.
But that didn’t mean there were no more apples to be harvested. It turns out that there are many many more varieties of apple than the red, green and gold apples offered all year long in the supermarket.
I just wanted to show you these gorgeous artichoke flowers I saw at the farmer’s market last week. This photo does not do the color justice. The purple is absolutely luminous.
They are not edible, but this is what happens to an artichoke if it is not picked an eaten.
I’m showing this to you because part of the wholeness of food is the entire life of the plant that makes the edible parts…
This is such a great idea, and the most affordable way I’ve seen to source whole food.
Misfits Market is “a subscription box of sometimes funny-looking fruits and vegetables making it easy and affordable for all of us to eat healthy. We are dedicated to breaking the cycle of food waste by helping delicious food find a good home. Your home.”
There is nothing wrong with this food in terms of eating, it just doesn’t fit into the commercial food system idea of perfection.
But there’s nothing wrong with the flavor and nourishment.
When I was a child, I ate a lot of watermelon. I often visited my grandparents during the summer in the hot Central Valley of California, and watermelon was one of my grandfather’s favorite foods.
A few days ago Larry and I bought a big organic watermelon and it’s delicious. Larry likes to cut it open and scoop out little melon balls for us.
Watermelon.org has done a great job of showing us how to use the whole watermelon in many great ways.
Rice is a very popular food around the world and comes in many different forms: puffed rice cereal, rice cakes, rice noodles, rice milk, brown rice syrup, rice crackers, rice-a-roni, and many more.
And there are many types of rice: white rice, brown rice, sushi rice, black rice, pink rice, wild rice…
But today I want to introduce you to plain brown rice, which is basic whole grain rice as it grows in Nature.
One of the things I plan to do on this blog is explore all the whole grains. For each whole grain I want to
- find out if and how it is available
- how to prepare it (cook, sprout, pop, etc)
- the nutritional benefits
- the characteristics and what I can do with it
About fifteen years ago I did a similar research project on natural sweeteners in a blog called Sweet Savvy. My only objective at that time was simply to understand and document how to use the new unrefined and natural sweeteners that were coming on the market at that time. I learned a lot and now those natural sweeteners are much more widely used.
I’m looking forward to exploring how we can use whole grains in their whole form (such as cooked brown rice instead of brown rice flour, or whole wheat berries instead of whole wheat bread. [See Why We Need to Eat Whole Food That is Really Whole to learn why.
On Friday, Larry and I were in the garden and noticed that the raspberries on our raspberry canes were starting to turn red.
Larry lifted up one of the canes, which were bending over under the weight of the berries and one of the raspberries fell off into his hand. He gave it to me to eat.
It was amazing!
I’m going to be writing a lot about beans on this blog because it turns out beans are pretty wonderful and not at all like the beans in the industrial food world. Organic heirloom beans are completely different from canned beans or cheap beans in plastic bags from the supermarket or even the bulk bin at a natural food store. Dried beans can be up to ten years old!
A bean is not a bean is not a bean. I’ve tested more than two dozen types of beans and each has it’s own character and flavor.
I want to start by introducing you to one of my favorites—scarlet runner beans.