Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!

Satsuma mandarins...the perfect winter snack, gift, everything!
peel, eat, repeat

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Are you ready for skin kissy weather?

Fluttering butterfly chrysalis thoughts of spring begin to softly awaken thoughts, paying attention to how it is going to work when mercury rises and clothes need to be, shall we say a bit less shielding than winter coverings. That was a nice way to say yikes!, it’s time to put on shorts and tank tops. Forget about the bikini, although I did sport a bikini one summer when I was 17 and went to Lake Shasta with only my girlfriends and not my family. We were very into making string bikinis at the time. I had to stop eating to get into it, for quite sometime actually. Then it got a bit weird so I figured I would be my curvy self eat healthy stuff to prevent myself from delving even deeper into a pretty salacious disease, ending my bikini experience. We were on our own for about the first time in our lives on a long drive from the Bay Area to Shasta for a week and starting to feel our wild teenager allure around guys our age and then some. It is a pretty clarifying moment when you realize initially what your effect is on the male population as a long haired, long legged 5’ 10’ 140 pound 17 year old sporting a bikini or a halter top and shorts or any type of clothing that shows skin. Throw in being able to bait a hook, set up a tent and ride a dirt bike while gourmet camp cooking and sparks start to fly creating a situation where you never will have to buy your own alcohol again.

My sisters however got my mom’s genes and still wear bikinis in their later years and look great but I digress. I frankly get a little freaked out about the whole thing and am torn because I love spring temperatures, kissing my warming skin, encouraging many smiles and sighs, but it is always interesting when the inevitable clothes shedding starts.

My mom was really ill with a kidney infection and is home now but we are watching what she eats to get her health back. My sister Kathi told me about a diuretic soup to make for her to help shed this amazing amount of water she retained making her legs so big she could hardly lift them. Dandelion greens, chard, celery, parsley, all things green. She told me make it into a broth but I made it by chopping all the greens up and simmering in water to by cover by about 3 inches. After about a 30 minute simmer it is pretty thick with the greens but it really works like a charm for a nice, healthy toxin cleanse from the body without getting into any of the scary concoctions at the health food store. It worked for her to help get rid of all that water. I myself have been drinking stinging nettle tea and broth. It is awesome, meaty and sweet at the same time being the sort of food that you can feel delivering sunshine into your veins as you drink it.

It really boils down to cut out sugar and the second dinner now doesn’t it? I have the exercise thing down, how could you not around here? We have the best hiking. You can get in a nice one or 2 or even 3 hour hike and still get all your stuff done for the day that you need to. We love Briones and know every trail. Mt. Diablo is a different animal altogether. In the winter and spring it is really a lot colder and a bit wilder than Briones but in the summer it is too blazing for me and I tend to skip it until the days get a bit shorter and the birds try to figure out where they are going before they remember that they live in the Bay Area and don’t have to go anywhere. We need to explore Mt. Tam way more than we have but it takes an hour to drive over there so on the back burner it patiently waits. Redwood Regional is great and not quite as far a drive. We like to go in on the Canyon side and walk over to the San Lorenzo res ending up in Oakland. This is perfect weather for hiking and the trails are in perfect shape without too much mud but not slippery and sketchy either.

Just thinking about those skorts hanging in my closet, every once in awhile almost taking one off the hanger to see if it will button but then I chicken out ,allowing my blood pressure to calm down before thinking about trying again. Maybe if I can self tan enough I will work up the nerve. Nothing like bright white flab to make you back out of the closet quietly and deftly before the bomb drops.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wait a minute...I think I saw a food system change

After years of trying to get food offered for life and nutrition to our students in schools we are finally getting some positive feedback from the people that hold the purse strings and rules that go with the money, the feds. Michelle Obama has dug up the sacred White House lawn to plant a vegetable garden with some school kids, giving credence to all of us that have been planting school gardens for years under suspicious and watchful eyes. She has legitimized kids learning how to plant their own foods while learning science, math, getting exercise and sunshine along with a million other positives of kids growing their own produce.

Her husband has new people trying to figure out a corrupt, inherited USDA in control of the national school lunch program joke. Tom Vilsak, the new secretary of agriculture actually took a jackhammer to a patch of lawn in front of his headquarters to create his own organic community garden. Wow, this is a guy on the team of our future food system shapers, radical, independent and aware that change needs to be made for the health of our country physically as well as metaphorically.

Current systems dictate taxpayers money pay the large, massively unconscious and devastatingly polluting large agri business growers to grow way too much corn and soy. Then we pay their subsidiaries to figure out devious ways of sneaking highly refined corn and soy byproducts into every kind of prepared foods available in a supermarket loaded with enough habit inducing sugar and fat to keep the sheep happy and coming back to the deadly trough until they get educated enough to change their eating and shopping habits to stay alive. The system continues on to pay those same large agri business people more money to put this hideous food into the national school lunch program, oh and yes by the way lets subsidize the whole operation with taxpayers money again. Sounds fishy to me and the old ways are definitely starting to stink up the hood. Perhaps this is all news to you and you thought that it was just cheap, bad food we fed the kids to keep everyone’s costs down. Simply part of the shenanigans my dear. I feel like the Obama administration may curb the dumbing down of America simply by encouraging Americans to take responsibility and become a part of the process of knowing what they are eating and how it got into their pantry.

After years of breaking bread and breaking ground with school age students it is most rewarding for me to be a part of a process that instead of going backwards to promote healthy eating is inching in the forward direction not only talking about supporting, but sustaining as well as growing the number of small family farms creating a food system that is based on local growers and people buying from these “food sheds”. The impact on our environment has the potential to be earth changing literally if the amount of fossil fuels used in transportation internationally of foods is reduced based on local consumption. Amounts of fossil fuel generated fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides may be reduced by the smaller growing model. Conventional smaller farms do not use as much as the large monoculture agri business and the organic growers use fossil fuels to grow their foods In the form of gas for tractors mainly.

Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers came about after world war two when munitions factories needed to be used as something else. They had already been using the technology to produce mustard gases as well as other weapons for the battlefields and the jump into this new realm of capitalism was not far. Sometimes I wish that I had the mind to come up with that stuff…
Agriculture took a major right turn with the availability of all these new fangled tools and the farm that used to rotate crops year after year no longer had to because of fertilizers. Farms that used animals as part of the growing process for fertilizer, weed control etcetera, no longer had to because it was easier to just buy the chemicals and grow one huge crop year after year. Few knew the outcome would be a fat, lazy polluted country dying from obesity related diseases although some did predict just this outcome.
Demand fresh fruit America! In Northern California our farmers grow year round producing an amazing amount of incredible veggies and fruits. Support these people putting out an incredible effort to bring you fresh food with no government help and little pay in return. Shop at a farmer’s market year round, rain or shine and not only in the summer when the fruit is sexy and luscious. What winter produce lacks in bikini appeal it more than makes up for in a warm, cozy snuggle of the beach campfire.
Better yet, plant your own garden on the new moon becoming a part of your future of food in America.