What is wilson silverleaf? We're organitarians; it's best for our bodies and the planet. We cloth diapered Nina for the same reason. We drive a hybrid car & wish we could afford solar panels on our house. I'm a strong advocate for homebirth, full-time mom, & also a movie junkie. We don't have a tv though; we watch dvds on our computer. We love contradancing. I garden & knit; Larry's a puzzle lover & plays fantasy football.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

amazing gluten free brownies

Remember when I told you how much I love birthdays? Yeah, well, I got to take care of a friend's kids while she worked today, and one of them is having a birthday today. So I HAD to make something cake-ish. I decided to try a new recipe but since I altered it so much I'm going to pass it off as my own.

All ingredients organic, of course.

Preheat oven to 350. Grease an 8X8 pan (I used pyrex and coconut oil and it came out like a dream). Put coconut oil, chocolate, sugar, and brown rice syrup in a pan and melt together on low until it's all runny (sugar will still be grainy). Sift in the cocoa powder and mix until incorporated. Set aside to cool. Beat the eggs and vanilla extract together until they're a bit frothy. Mix coconut flour and baking powder together in a small bowl. When the chocolate mixture is cool, mix into eggs until incorporated and smooth. Add coconut cream, then flour, then chips, mixing in between, just until each thing is incorporated and smooth. Pour into bowl, smooth the top (I used a squeegee spatula type thing), and bake for about 25-30 minutes, until it's done, the top will not feel wet. Cool and add ganache. I can't give you a recipe because I didn't really use one. I used melted chocolate, cocoa powder, and almond milk with vanilla extract.

Really really really good. Most gf brownies are made with rice flour and have a little grit because of it. These are velvety smooth (though they are a little coconut-ey, which I don't mind at all; if you do, you could sub butter for the oil and cream for the coconut cream). These are gooey and fudgey and just...well, let's just say I wouldn't kick them out of bed for eating crackers.

I know I tend to use these bowls for taking pics of food--they're so pretty I can't help myself. My mother in law gave them to me; they're from the Morikami gardens gift shop.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

decision made...finally

I emailed a link to all the posts about the battle of the CSA boxes to the contact people at both to give them feedback. The people at Inland Empire responded positively and were really happy to hear about it. Nothing from JR Organics, which is pretty much the amount of interaction I've had with them, other than when they scolded me for picking up on the wrong date (even though I had told them when I wanted to pick up and they had said ok). Part of the reason I decided to switch from Be Wise is the lack of interaction with the farmer, so this is a big one for me.

I have belonged to several other CSA's, starting when I was just out of college with Black Bear Food Guild, then to Chicago for Angelic Organics (which, though it is the biggest CSA in the country, has great communication with the farmer and lots of activities on the farm). And of course my beloved Plowshares in Gainesville, which I was very involved in and knew the farmer pretty well. Each has been unique; when I was a member Black Bear had two pickups, one at the farm and one at a farmer's market. There were bins and scales, each item had a sign that said how much of each thing to take and if you didn't like something you could take a little more of something else. So simple! Angelic Organics had a "swap box" at each pickup location, if there was something in your box that you didn't like, you just put it in there and took out something you liked more. With Plowshares, you were encouraged to give them 2 bags with your name on them, they packed your veggies into them and brought them 2 more empties at pickup. Volunteering was also encouraged and I found it fun to work the stand at the farmer's market, selling the amazing produce and flowers (there was even a flower share, Rosie's flowers are a thing of beauty indeed) and handing out people's shares to them. One of my favorite things about belonging to a CSA is the community aspect; Be Wise fails utterly in that and my experience of JR Organics wasn't much better (though they did give Larry free flowers one week, that was nice).

Thanks for coming along with me on this experiment, it has been fun!

we're definitely going camping

We got our rehabbed tent poles back today (I asked why they weren't covered under warranty and they likened it to expecting a watch battery to be covered--I get it and am ok with it, elastic wears out). With our dividend it was 25$, pretty cheap to be able to use our nice tent. As you can see, though it's close, the air mattress fits in there.

I set it up in the kitchen; I think Nina and Larry are going to sleep in there tonight. I had forgotten how big and nice it is. I hope we get to use it without the rain fly.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

being type a pays off sometimes

We are planning to go camping with a huge group of families in a few weeks and I am feeling some trepidation about it (why would I sleep outside on the ground? I spent the first 5 years of my life in a camper, BTDT, I have an ACTUAL HOUSE that I can sleep in). My reluctance is slightly mitigated by the possibility that our air mattress will fit inside our REI Taj 3 tent that we got as a wedding gift from the lovely ladies from my Chicago book group (and the promise of the company of friends and great photo ops).

So today we tried to set it up and wouldn't you know, the elastic in the poles was completely shot, totally unusable (why do I think of panties when I hear about shot elastic?). When I called REI customer service they said we were welcome to mail them the poles and tell them why we were wanting them covered by the warranty. That sounded like a total hassle and like maybe we wouldn't get them back in time so we decided to head over to the retail store, which is about 6 miles from our house. Sure, they said, we can put new elastic in and have them back to you by Wednesday. Awesome. They also asked me if my poles had been smoking up to much and that's why they weren't functional (huh? but funny, I appreciate someone who can just bust out with totally random crap to a complete stranger). It won't be covered by warranty but for the convenience I'm willing to pay (12$ per pole). I'm so glad we didn't get to our campsite and then try to set up a dysfunctional tent. It totally pays to plan ahead.

Oh, and we almost had to drag Nina out of REI kicking and screaming. She totally could have spent at least another hour or two trying on shoes.

time to vote!

To recap my posts on the trial subscriptions, click here.

battle of the csa boxes, week 8

This was the last week of our trial with JR Organics. We got:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 bunch of baby tatsoi
  • 1 big bunch of basil
  • 5 blood oranges
  • 5 heads of lettuce
  • 1 bunch of beets and greens
  • 3 small onions
  • 4 apples
  • 3 zucchini
  • 2 summer squash
  • 2 cucumbers

Saturday, May 24, 2008

gluten free matzoh (sort of) balls

The rainy weather yesterday and today inspired me to make some chicken soup (with lima beans and wild rice, yum). But I knew Nina probably wouldn't eat it unless there was some sort of carbish kind of thing to eat it with, so I decided to try my hand at gluten free matzoh balls. Traditional matzoh balls are made from ground up matzoh crackers, but I decided to use flours instead. They turned out pretty well and Nina ate a lot more soup than she would have without the dumplings (and she never knew there were carrots and zucchini in it because they're pureed with a stick blender).

2 eggs, beaten
1 tbs melted butter
1 cup soup
equal parts amaranth flour and masa harina (I get my organic masa from Gold Mine, it's a mail order place but it's near my house so I pick up instead of getting it shipped. It's seriously the best tasting masa I have ever had.)

Mix together the first 3 ingredients, and then enough of the other two to make a batter that can be rolled between the hands to make ping pong (or slightly larger) sized balls. Drop into lightly boiling soup. Once the balls start to float, cook a few minutes more. Test one to see if it tastes done. Raw corn tastes raw so it should be easy to tell.

These don't taste 100% authentic and they're a little more dense than a lot of people like their matzoh balls, but as far as my family is concerned, they'll do just fine.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

yet another reason that c-sections should be the last resort for birth

Possible biological explanation for C-section-linked allergies and asthma found

Scientists believe they may have identified a biological explanation for the link between cesarean-section delivery and risk of allergy and asthma in childhood. They will present their findings at the American Thoracic Society's 2008 International Conference in Toronto on Tuesday, May 20.

Read more here.

I don't usually think SNL is very funny, but...

This one got an actual laugh out of me (you have to watch a short ad first).

Perhaps that's because this is about how I feel about birthdays, everyone's birthdays, not just my own.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

short hospital stay

So, I know I am way behind on my posts, but I thought it was important to document our experience.

On the 9th Nina woke up with a runny nose and I didn't think much of it, she's a kid and that often happens. By evening, when we went to pick Larry up from the airport, she was wheezing pretty badly. It didn't improve significantly by Saturday and I decided to call our osteopath, Dr Maryanne Morelli, who has been working with Nina on her intermittent respiratory issues. Dr Morelli just happened to be in even though it was Saturday and asked if we could be in within a half an hour so we jumped into the car and saw her. She wasn't able to help significantly and told us that a typical amount of resps per minute in a toddler is 30; Nina was right around 50 and she was really working to breathe, using her whole belly and chest. Dr Morelli said that if it didn't get better we should take her to the hospital. By about 7 on Sunday evening we made the decision and headed to Children's.

We waited for about 15 minutes in the ER there, straight to triage, where Nina charmed the pants off of the nurse there. He said he was going to tell everyone about Shelf Beep's name (Nina's doll has had a few evolutions of her name). Within about 10 minutes after that Nina was on a nebulizer and breathing better but still wheezy. I had been worried about her blood oxygen level and they had this neat light thing that they taped to Nina's big toe that monitored her blood oxygen. It was always in the low end of normal, so I felt a lot better about that but am still glad we made sure, it's scary to think that Nina wasn't getting enough oxygen in her blood. After two nebulizer treatments they decided that Nina needed to be admitted over night. We told Larry to go home so that he could get some work in the next day and were moved upstairs to be admitted by 11 pm.

The nurses and doctors were really wonderful, though we were a little stir crazy by 3:00 the next day when I finally convinced them to discharge us. They were just giving Nina inhaler treatments and watching her, which I told them I could do just as well as they could, if not better. We stopped giving the prednisone on Friday and she was still a little wheezy but she seems completely clear now besides a little runny nose.

We went to see Dr Adema yesterday and he said she sounds much better and that though they gave her an asthma diagnosis he doesn't think it's a lifetime thing. He thinks that it's caused by a combination of airborne irritants stemming from the fires in October and exacerbated by the extra pollen and mold in the air from our unusually wet spring.

We are going to replace our carpets, probably with cork, as soon as we decide what brand to go with (what's most eco-and respiration-friendly). I have wanted to replace the carpet that came with the house anyway and it's good to have a reason to have to do it.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

battle of the csa boxes, week 7

This was a bonanza week, the last week of our trial period with Inland Empire. We got:

  • 1 pint strawberries
  • 1 bunch of small celery (the grower emailed me telling me that it's for cooking only and didn't come out as nicely as they would have liked.
  • 2 heads lettuce
  • 1 bunch chard
  • 1 bunch of dandelion greens
  • 1 artichoke
  • 3 oranges
  • 6 loquats
  • 3 small onions
  • 6 new potatoes
  • 2 small green peppers
  • 3 heads young garlic
  • 2 small round zucchini
  • 4 avocados
  • 1 head uncured garlic
  • 1 bunch baby carrots
  • 1 bunch red scallions
  • 2 grapefruit
  • 1 bunch of what I thought were collards but the grower tells me is broccoli or cauliflower leaves, that explains why it wasn't exactly right. It was tasty though.
  • 1 bunch small leeks
  • 2 red onions
  • jar of honey
Wow, what a haul!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

but factory farms don't hurt anybody, do they?

Umm, yeah. According to the Pew Commission (part of the Pew Charitable Trusts), CAFOS (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations, where most of the animals that are eaten in this country spends their time before they're slaughtered) pose an unacceptable risk to public health and the environment. Read more about it here.

Not that it's really news, but it's nice to have a large, respected organization say it publicly. Oh, and don't think you're avoiding CAFOs because you are eating organic or "free range." Unless you know the farmer and have seen the way the animals you are eating live, assume the worst. You're most likely right.

is it me?

Or is it bad form not to put a stamp on wedding RSVP envelopes?

Sunday, May 11, 2008

battle of the csa boxes, week 6

This week we got (from JR Organics):
*a bunch of basil
*a pint of gorgeous strawberries
*a bunch of arugula
*a large bunch of swiss chard (bummer, I don't really like it)
*a bunch of radishes
*a bunch of baby carrots
*3 purple kohlrabi
*3 blood oranges
*4 heads lettuce
*3 apples

Wow, only two more weeks to go after today.

Friday, May 09, 2008

well done

Larry came home from being away all week on business and brought me a present. He did well, no?

the gyre

I have been hearing about this for about a year now, but telling me about it is kind of like preaching to the choir. I am painfully aware of plastic that I throw away, to the point where I actually physically wince sometimes. Maybe you will be, too, after watching this. The second half of this episode is about video games, which I have no real interest in, but maybe it will be interesting to you.


Thursday, May 08, 2008

our journey through chicken pox

So, last Thursday I posted that Nina had the chicken pox, but I thought it would be helpful for others going through (or about to go through) it how it went for us. Thursday Nina was happy and only a little uncomfortable, though by the end of the day she had blisters all over. Thursday night was miserable, none of us got more than a few hours of sleep. We tried applying apple cider vinegar compresses, oatmeal baths, and homeopathic pulsatilla.

Friday was hard because our playgroup had a lovely faery party with costumes, stories, a magical tree, and flowers. I had signed up to bring flowers so I picked every flower in my garden and packed them into a paper bag with wet paper towels. We brought them to the playgroup and had a mama get them from the car for us, it was sad to see everyone having fun but truth be told Nina and I were both too tired to have had much fun anyway. I had read that a good remedy for the itching was a mixture of calamine lotion and essential oils of german chamomile and lavender. Once I had bought all of that, of course Nina would have nothing to do with the mixture. She was uncomfortable, though, so I put about a half a cup of oatmeal in the food processor and then into a sock, which I tied off and put into a warm bath along with the german chamomile oil. Coupled with the portable dvd player sitting on the toilet, this provided Nina with an hour of relief at a time. When bedtime came around I was afraid we were in for another sleepless night so I gave Nina some Herbs For Kids valerian to help her sleep. This worked for a couple of hours, but she woke at 11 and was very uncomfortable. At this point I remembered that I had some chewable benadryl and gave it to her. Within a half an hour she was sleeping peacefully and didn't wake up until 6:30 on Saturday morning.

Saturday she was happy and seemed comfortable, and even though she still had a few blisters, many had scabbed over. Which was good, because Larry left for a week on Sunday and I was hoping Nina would be able to sleep by then. I didn't need to worry, she had scabbed over completely and spent enough time in my mom's pool to get a tan line from her swimsuit. We skipped playgroup on Monday just to be sure even though everything I have read says that once all the blisters scab over there is no contagion. By Tuesday she was back in school. The only sign that she was sick at all is that she has scabs all over but is totally fine. I did keep putting the german chamomile in the bath water along with some tea tree oil to avoid infection on Monday and Tuesday. So far so good, no infection.

I had chicken pox when I was 19 and was very sick, so I was relieved and surprised to find that though Nina was very uncomfortable for a while she was never sick; she never even had a fever. I am so glad she was able to get it over with while she was little and able to heal easily.

Nina hears a who

I took Nina to see her first movie in the theater. She mostly liked it but I had forgotten about the previews. They were for "kids" movies and tv shows but still most of them were scarier and more violent than anything she has ever seen.

And then there was this guy, Vlad the Vulture, who Nina found scary. She started out on her own seat next to me but quickly found her way onto my lap and stayed there.

All in all it was a pretty good experience but I think it will be a while before I take her to another movie. She really wasn't as ready for it as I thought she was.

Monday, May 05, 2008

because she's awesome

While we were at the height of poxed discomfort, Nina was complaining and we had this conversation:
Nina: it itches, it hurts (etc).
Me: I'm so sorry, I want you to feel better.
Nina: eventually I will.

There are three things that stand out for me about this conversation. One is that she used the word "eventually," I mean seriously, the kid's 3 1/2. The second is that she knew that the discomfort was temporary. Sometimes I can't wrap my head around that, and she had it figured out. Last, it was almost like she was comforting me, that's sort of the tone she had in her voice, and also like I was slightly stupid for not realizing.

Yesterday in the car, a newish mustang convertible pulled up next to us.
Nina: is that a hot car, mama?
Me: some people think so
Nina: I do. I think that's a hot car.

Let me remind you again: she's freaking 3.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

battle of the csa boxes, week 5

This was our third box from Inland Empire, and it was the best quality so far.
We got:
*a bag of baby rainbow chard
*a bag of mustard greens
*3 bunches of baby celery, tough dry, and yellowing
*a bunch of spring onions
*a bunch of small white onions with tops
*4 loquats--I had never had these before, they were okay but I don't love them
*huge hydroponic purple basil
*hydroponic cilantro
*a head of hydroponic lettuce (looks like red romaine)
*a bunch of garlic scapes
*3 haas avocados (not ripe yet, but they look good)
*1 artichoke (yum)
*1 bunch of baby carrots
*2 huge grapefruits
*3 salad cucumbers, one shriveled
*5 small new potatoes
*a bunch of collards (yellowing and tough but were fine chopped up in the food processor and cooked into food)
*a pint of strawberries, delicious

you think you really know me

Actually, this post is not about me at all, but Larry's uncle Gary. He's a musician with a bit of a cult status, and a documentary has been made about him. You can read more about it here.

great food vacation roundup

First of all, Guerilla Cafe. Seriously, where else can you get an amazing organic espresso with condensed milk (it comes in a bowl) and a pastured, organic poached egg on a croissant? It's a nice little hangout spot with amazing food that is mostly organic. Love it.

Something I had to try before I try to go wheat free for a few months is Bakesale Betty's fried chicken sandwich in Oakland. It was everything it's cracked up to be, fantastic. They sell out every day. They also had some good looking strawberry shortcake but I decided to pass it by, the sandwich was super filling.

The perennial favorite Sol Food is also not to be missed, Arwyn discovered it when she lived in San Rafael. The menu is simple, with few choices, all fantastic. My hands down favorite is the pollo al horno. And the salad is organic greens with a super tangy and amazingly delicious dressing. I dream about it sometimes.

Last for now is Fairfax Scoop. There's a reason there is always a line. Organic ice cream made on the premises, need I say more?

weekend in northern california

Last Thursday (April 24) Nina and I hopped on a flight up to the bay area to visit my sister; she is set up in a really nice space that is above her employer's 4 car garage/storage area. It's a beautiful, secluded, quiet spot with lots of outside living area as well.

We were at Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley* one day and I decided to buy Nina some face crayons, she was totally into it.

On Saturday Arwyn had some friends over for brunch and it turned into an all day thing, it was a nice lazy day with lots of laughter and good food.

Here's Nina's sasquatch (also known as sassy) face. By the end of the day Nina decided that her tanktop was actually a loin cloth; she put her legs through the arm holes and let the body hang down. It actually looked comfy, I just may try that on the next hot day.

Blurry but sweet snuggle pic (I should get a new camera, don't you think?).

*Don't think for a minute that I kept hoping I was going to see Michael Pollan around town. And also don't think that I might have done something embarrassing like throw my panties at him. I'm not a groupie or anything.

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there's a pox on our house

Only the chicken kind. I'm glad Nina is getting it young, I had it when I was 19 and was so sick. She started out with two spots that looked like scratched bug bites on Wednesday afternoon and then woke up with a full-blown case on Thursday morning.

She's been taking it pretty well, not acting sick or bothered except at bed time when she's not disctracted, then she's been pretty miserable (I finally gave her a chewable benadryl last night and she was able to sleep from 11:30 to 6:30). Thursday afternoon I decided to take her outside and get some sun (I've later found out that's the exact wrong thing to do, but I didn't know at the time). The below isn't best pic of her pox but I posted it here because she is super scared of bugs and would have been flipped out that there was one on her back, but she didn't notice it.

I decided to let her use our big camera; she's totally a pro now.

This is my favorite of the pics she took.

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