Doula Stew

Monica was eating breakfast before her cranial-sacral class this morning, I was sitting on the kitchen couch drinking chicory and enjoying the sunlight. We were talking about the possible births she has coming up, as Monica is studying to be a doula and is going to be on call this coming week. We were talking about what foods she might be able to have with her that would be easy to grab and go. She could be stuck at the hospital for 10 or more hours at a time.  A friend of hers is butchering a cow today, and I was suggesting that maybe we could make some jerky. Nut butters and carrots, other snacky types of foods came up. But I kept thinking about soup. Of course, after being summoned to the birth, one could stop at the co-op, wait in line, and get some soup that was made with great ingredients, but how much better would it be to have soup ready from home? Thawing frozen jars of soup in a hospital microwave? Well, looked it up, and it seems that it’s a better idea to freeze the soup in food grade plastic containers, dump it in a bowl, and then go from there.

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How to Make Homemade Gnocchi

(with and without Gluten)

As you may know, gnocchi is a type of Italian pasta, usually homemade, most often made with mashed or riced potatoes and unbleached flour. There are many other different varieties of gnocchi, as it can be also made with anything from sweet potatoes, ricotta cheese, cream puff dough, spinach, chestnut flour, semolina flour, and more. I have a version that uses acorn meal in my upcoming cookbook. Many versions use egg along with the potato and unbleached flour, but I prefer only to use eggs when I make the gluten free versions, as they really help to bind the gluten-less flour to the potato. The gluten-y gnocchi (pronounced NYO-key, in case you were wondering), come out perfectly without the egg, and then it’s vegan-friendly, as well!

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How to Process Acorns for Cooking

To Process Acorns:

Pick acorns. Just ripened is ideal, but in New Mexico I have often picked them while still a bit green. Be sure there are no holes on the surface of the acorn shell, which indicates worms. Once you get them home, the sooner you can roast them in the oven the better. If you can’t do this right away, stick them in containers in the freezer, and roast them as soon as you get time. Roast them (with the shells on) at 300 degrees until the nuts inside the shells darken and become fairly hard, if you’re using them for cooking after roasting. The length of roasting time will differ according to the size of the acorns. If roasting for storage not in a freezer, cook them until the nuts inside the shells are very dark brown and your fingernail will not make even a tiny dent in a nut, but take them out before they blacken. Then you can store them in glass jars or, preferably, food grade plastic containers with some holes punched into the tops of the containers, for some air ventilation to prevent mold. After shelling, in my experience, the hard nuts can be kept in glass jars for at least a year, although this may be different in damper climates, I’m not sure.

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Acorn Cornbread

I was going to make my beloved Acorn Cornbread on Thanksgiving day. But, as things went, our household decided to go to the Indiana River that morning, to give thanks to Mother Nature in our own way. It was an incredible morning, with a light drizzle of rain, and fog drifting all over the forested mountains. I swam in the very cold river., and sang, and we all sang and howled like the pack of happy little creatures that we are, out in the wild with no one around. We saw an incredible rainbow, and, later, Monica brought us to see a whole field of Darlingtonia plants, which completely blew our minds.

Not to mention, that on the way there, a whole flock of wild turkeys gobbled along a road side while we drove slowly by, admiring their beauty.  My housemates talked to the turkeys from the inside of the car, saying things like, “We’re so glad you’re so alive!, ” and “Be free, little ones!” and although I could appreciate these well-wishes, I have to admit my canyon-ized self was also wishing we’d thought to pack a shotgun in the car along with our jars of tahini, and that it hadn’t been so long since my last target practice with Wolf.

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A ReWilded Kitchen

A ReWilded Kitchen, A ReWilded Life

This is the beginning of an essay that originally appeared in Plant Healer magazine. The complete version will be found in my upcoming book of essays that I’m planning as a companion to my cookbook.

Food- A Primal, Primary Focus

Anima teaches that every moment is a decisive moment, and our reality in part a product of our choices. Picture the life you’ve always wanted, yours for the manifesting. Picture no more compromising of your wants and needs, no more being resigned to obligations or subject to those who would judge and guilt trip you. Imagine your future as a blank canvas, and you equipped with every color of paint with which to created the healthful existence you deeply crave. Where, and with whom would you live? What would you do with your precious mortal hours? What acts of creativity would you focus on, and revel in? How and what would you eat?

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A Very Happy Birthday

 

On October 12th, I celebrated not only the anniversary of my arrival into the world outside my mama’s belly, but the anniversary of my arrival to Ashland!

It’s been quite the year!

My house was already planning to hold a potluck supper on October 9th, and I wasn’t sure, that morning, that I wanted it to be a birthday celebration potluck. But, I wondered, why not? Some little voice in me was saying it was wrong to want a party focused on me, but I had to wonder where that voice was coming from. I never figured it out entirely, only that I was being silly!

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What to Do with Monster Zucchini

What to do with Monster Zucchini

It happens so easily. The busy-ness of life makes it a little hard to stay on top of what’s going on in the garden. Before we know it, the basil is flowering like crazy, the tomatoes are falling over, and the zucchinis are so huge we start offering them apologetically to friends and neighbors. So many times I have been offered them myself, with an “I don’t know if you can do anything with this, but if you want it, you can have it.”

Well, I am of the mind to accept any offers of fresh produce or someone’s “garden weeds”. If it came from the earth, thank you very much, I will find something to do with it. And so, over the years, I’ve developed many lovely ways to use up mountains of flowering basil, (and I even use the flowers, but NOT in pesto!), overripe or green tomatoes, purslane, lamb’s quarters, amaranth, and overgrown squashes. So, monster zucchini are a bit of a specialty of mine.

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In Praise of the Flip Phone

My love Marcus and I were out walking last night. We started out on a country road, near the place where we are house sitting, intending just to catch the last bit of sunset time. After a while we decided to walk to the spa/hot springs where I work, about a mile down the highway. This got us talking about the strange beauty of landscapes interrupted by the things of civilization. And Mad Max, and the Rainbow Gathering we’d just been to last week, and that one of our favorite things about Rainbow was its post-apocalyptic vibe. Very different from the Oregon Country Fair, which was more like a bunch of fairies who decided to make a really pretty shopping mall in the middle of the woods, complete with great live music at every corner. But I don’t mean to make it sound like I preferred the Rainbow gathering over the Fair, just so you know. Read more

The Canyon in Us: Me and Mattie, And Potato Nettle Soup

I

was out on the plaza watching my beloved busk with his one-man-band outfit a few weeks ago when I saw a woman fluttering by in a beautiful, long, hooded beige coat dress. It was funny, I only saw her back, but there was something so familiar about her… it was almost like seeing a little piece of myself. My rational brain just thought “Oh, it’s because she’s wearing something I would wear, that’s why I feel this.”

A few minutes later, she came back down the street and stood right in front of me. “Loba??” Is it you? WHAT are you doing here?”

(here’s a little moment of Mattie being her beautiful self here!)

A little yet-untold back story for my readers here, that some of you already know from reading the Anima blog I was a sporadic contributor to for at least a dozen years: Elka has only been my name for about the past four years. Before that, my name was Loba for twenty years. Before that, I had another name that I dearly loved, and still love. (You can find out what it was here in the second story that appears).

It took me a few seconds to adjust my eyes to see this person apart from the only context I was used to.  “MATTIE, is that you???”

I’d been thinking about Mattie, I’d been wanting to contact her, but had lost track of her email and didn’t remember her last name. I figured she was probably back in Montana, where she was from.

She was one of my all-time favorite helpers in the canyon, and stayed quite a bit longer than most of our other helpers did. I have many beautiful memories of us baking together in the outdoor kitchen, sharing songs, harvesting and cooking up the wild greens of summertime with endless panfuls of homemade corn tortillas, floating in the river, doing water dances in the moonlight with our lovely & mischievous friend Evangeline, sharing tears and fears, stories of our lives and some of the powerful moments we each had on our own with the canyon.

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Healer’s Night Soup

Last night was quite the event in our house. Jessica (who recently changed her name to Camitza) shared an inspiration about a month or two ago of our home hosting nights in which local people could get together and offer their healing practices to each other. As we were all discussing the logistics of ways this could work, and not work well, it eventually became evident to her that we needed to do a practice run.  Read more