Saturday, November 14, 2009


Its a cozy cold rainy day in November. I have a cat in my lap and a cat at my feet. The sun is going down and the fire is burning brightly. Jason has a pile of work that he is working on just to my left on the sofa. The clickity clack of him typing faster than humanly possible mixes well with the roar of the Mill River rushing over the dam in my front yard. I am thinking about Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is and has been, my favorite holiday. Its about food for food's sake, and family for family's sake. Its not about presents or gods- its not really even about history. Now don't get me wrong I love history, and gods, and presents; but it is nice that there is an American holiday that honors what we pull out of the earth and feed ourselves with. Yes there is the whole pilgrim/american indian thing and that meal they may or may not have had. But being far removed from elementary school, I haven't thought of that for a while. What I think about is pumpkins and cranberries.

Pumpkins are a thing with me. I went through this phase in high school where almost everything I would bake had pumpkin in it. When I stopped buying canned pumpkin I gained a whole new appreciation for the lovely squash. A small sugar pumpkin is easy to cook- and delicious. Just scoop out the seeds and stringy bits, pour in a cup of water and bake it in a 350 oven until it is fork soft. Puree it up and your pie will be lighter in color, but richer in flavor.

On to the cranberry, the poor mistreated cranberry. Why oh why does everyone torture the cranberry to death? These are a few ways I do not like to eat cranberries: sweetened and dried, added to a juice cocktail, and turned into a congealed clear mass. If I wasn't raised in the family I was raised in- I may have never realized that I love cranberries. They are tart and flavorful so they stand up well in chutney and sausage. A little pure cranberry juice in sparkling water is refreshing and delicious. And a homemade cranberry sauce is worth the extra 10 minutes it takes to make:

Cranberry sauce:
12 ounces cranberries
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup orange juice

bring ingredients to a boil- let simmer for 10-20 minutes, let boil about five minutes after the berries pop. At this point you can puree the sauce- but that is opional- Let cool. YUM!

Its dark out now, Jason is done with his work, the cats left and the stove has turned off. Guess its time to go do something else.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making your own cat food

More than a year ago (probably 6 or 7 blog entries ago) I wrote about the evils of dry cat food. Since then I have purchased a Tasin TS 108 meat grinder and spent 2 hours each month in the kitchen faithfully grinding chicken thighs and whipping up slurries of supplements. My cats are amazingly sprightly and happy with shiny coats and all those nice things in cat commercials. I will provide here simplified instructions for making food. This recipe comes from, the instructions on that are more detailed- these directions are the ones I wrote for myself and therefore they are simplified. For the more detail oriented- perfectionist types there is a more intense recipe at I highly recommend visiting both of these sites before attempting to make cat food- there is a wealth of information there that I cannot begin to delve into.

Raw Cat Food Diet by Lisa A Pierson, DVM:

3 lbs of chicken thighs
3-4 oz chicken liver
2 eggs
2000 mg wild salmon oil
2000 taurine (powdered)
400 IU Vitamin E (powdered)
100 mg Vitamin B-Complex
3/4 tsp. Lite Salt (make sure it containes iodine)
2 tsp of psyllium husk powder (optional- good for constipated cats)
1 cup of water

Separate the eggs, return the yolks to the fridge, poach the whites - allow to cool

Hand chunk 1/3 of the thigh meat into 1/2 inch pieces, put in large bowl
Grind remaining meat, bones, and skin through smallest grinding plate
Halfway through grinding, run liver and egg whites through grinder
Put meat-filled bowl in fridge

In second bowl empty all the powdered supplement capsules, cut open salmon oil capsules and squirt in, add reserved egg yolks, beat it all together, add water mix more and add to meat, add psyllium (if using)

mix, mix, mix

weigh into containers the size you prefer (I put 1.25 lbs into Ziploc containers)
Put in freezer

Clean up

I make food for 30 days and feed each cat 4oz of meat a day- so I make 15 lbs of chicken- the final product is of course heaver due to the added ingredients.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

A Change of Pace

I have moved!

My partner and I picked up all of our accoutrements and regalia, stuffed it in a box and drove home. We have been in the North East for about a month and a half- two full weeks in our new home in Western Massachusetts. We are living in a small section of Northampton called Leeds- a little town along the Mill River. The river runs directly in front of the house with small man-made waterfall separating a shallow pool-like pond I like to swim in, or if you prefer you can jump off of the wall into the deep water below (the jump is not far enough to induce screaming.) I have now attained my dream of having fresh water to swim in outside my door.

We have been out here long enough that I am no longer blinded by the greenness of the foliage. Although I still get pitter-pats in my heart walking around the acre the house is on, noticing plants like old friends I haven't seen in a long time. Unfortunately the most common plant around the house is poison ivy- severely diminishing the areas I can walk.

I took a small sojurn into some of the big woods behind the house today tramping around in a linen dress and flip-flops like some sort of city girl gone native. It is as though I am confirming the things I would say in Berkeley- "I know I can drive to the woods, but I prefer it to be in my back yard, so I don't have to think about it." This is one of the main reasons I was never quite comfortable in Berkeley. I could drive to the heat, the snow, the woods, the water- but I prefer nature to be inescapable. A way of life rather than a destination.

There is another peace here- the intention to settle changes the lens through which I see my surroundings. I am seeking to reaffirm the roots I had already in place, to strengthen my ties to a community I loved but was never a fully part of. As a college student I belonged more to Hampshire College than the Pioneer Valley. As an adult I am immersing myself into that geography. Of course for me community is tied up inextricably with food.

In the past two weeks I have done research online to find local producers for my eggs and vegetables - my allegiance to Mapleline Farms milk already in place from college. I found a food co-op that opened last year and was able to do my shopping for the week there easily selecting local, in season fruits and veggies. Hopefully I can soon move out to more direct-from-farmer purchasing. It appears that due to financial constraints I will not be able to buy a CSA share from Hampshire College Farm Center this year. I am hoping that this turns out to be a blessing in disguise- forcing me to meet other farmers and make new food friends.

I found a space for my massage business to start out in- I'm just waiting on a license from the Commonwealth. I'm also in hot pursuit of a part-time job, I hope craigslist doesn't let me down on this one!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Chickweed Lawn (old unpublished post)

Apparently I wrote this in February or March and forgot to hit "publish". . .

My yard is all chickweed!

Its a double edge sword to have a yard full of chickweed. I have all the delicious salad I could ever consume. The downside is that I don't want to pull any out, so I'm having trouble clearing my vegetable beds. I had a small patch of chickweed at my house in Goshen that grew low to the ground under the hose nozzle. The leaves were small and the flowers were even smaller. My chickweed lawn however grows calf high with leaves as long as my pinky. I would say that my current favorite thing about living in California is chickweed.

Chickweed is one of my favorite herbs, lucky for me it grows everywhere. Last winter it grew in the cracks of my rotting back stair case. Chickweed is a powerhouse of nutrition and a wonderful aid when dealing with inflammation and infection. Susun Weed highlights it as one of the 5 main herbs in Healing Wise, an excelent resourse for anyone who has a body.

I have made only one liter of chickweed tincture available for use in 6 weeks. I am thinking about making some more, unfortunately that would require me to buy 100 proof vodka.

Here is a super close up of a chickweed flower- they are very small and quite lovely:

A modest harvest: