Archive for September, 2009

Third Time's A Charm


September 18th, 2009

lasagna
This is my third attempt at making the lasagna from RAW FOOD REAL WORLD. I was inspired by the STUDENTS of 105 DEGREES and the abundance of tomatoes and zucchini in my GARDEN of late.

lasagna side
I suppose that now is as good a time as any to mention that I am the latest recruit to the 105 DEGREES ACADEMY. Or one of them anyway. Not entirely shocking, I suppose, given my penchant for following MATTHEW KENNEY recipes. That coupled with the fact that my entire family lives in Oklahoma makes it kind of a no brainer! Anyway, I’ll be there from Nov-Mar. YAY! (Speaking of Matthew Kenney, did you see the article yesterday in the NY TIMES? It’s kind of funny actually. The writer is clearly not a connoisseur of raw food. In fact, he’s still hung up on a pork chop he had in the mid-90’s. That pork chop really must have made an impression. This was particularly funny to me yesterday since we were having a discussion about how the EGGPLANT BACON didn’t really taste like bacon).

nyagous
Anyway, back to the lasagna. Check out this black tomato I grew in my garden. It’s a NYAGOUS variety. They’re apparently highly sought after for their rich flavor. This is what I used for my tomato sauce. Things have come a long way from my FIRST LASAGNA which I cluelessly made in the middle of winter. Last year, I had at least figured out the SEASONS.

zucchini
But this year, I was able to season my own homegrown zucchini with my own homegrown herbs!

caspian pink
I had quite a few varieties of tomatoes to choose from. Everyone said I wouldn’t be able to grow heirloom tomatoes in a community garden. Apparently, our garden had a fungus problem or something. I used some EFFECTIVE MICROORGANISMS in the soil. I’m not sure if that’s what did the trick, but they grew up beautifully. Anyway, these are some CASPIAN PINK tomatoes.

green zebra
Probably our most abundant tomotoes this year were the GREEN ZEBRAS (which is perfect for this recipe). Ours came up this beautiful golden color.

layers
The tomatoes were layered with a pine nut pignoli, a basil and pistachio pesto, and the marinated zucchini in a casserole dish.

lasagna
Bon Appetit! (I wonder if I’ll be talking about this lasagna in fifteen years :) ).

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Eggplant Bacon


September 16th, 2009

bacon
I was trying to figure out what to do with the eggplant I got in one of my recent CSA BOXES, and I remembered this recipe from EVERYDAY RAW. It looks a LOT like bacon.

sliced eggplant
Starts with chopping up some eggplant…

marinated
…marinate in a chipotle-like dressing.

dehydrate
Then, you just set it out to dry. I have to say that the biggest obstacle with these is the expectation that they will taste like bacon. Because they really don’t. When I first tried them, I was kind of put off by that. But then I came back to them later without that expectation, and I loved them.

Got to live in the now, I guess. Maybe I should just call them spicy eggplant sticks. That might go over better.

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The Good News and The Bad News


September 13th, 2009

anomolies
Today I’m starting a new series…MEDICAL ANOMALIES. To anyone whose ever fallen through the cracks of the modern marvel we reluctantly refer to as a medical system, I feel ya!

obama
With debate over the future of healthcare spinning into overdrive, I can’t help but reflect on my own situation. It has without a doubt been among the most frustrating debacles I’ve had to deal with. Everyone agrees that there is a problem.  And on the surface, it seems like nobody agrees on the solution.  But honestly, I don’t know if that’s actually true.  I think that when you talk to most people, there IS some consensus.  It’s just when you turn on the TV…well that’s another story entirely.  Honestly, I try not to turn on the TV much at all these days.  I try as much as possible to form my own opinions based on my own experiences. This is a pic I took of President Obama yesterday at the Minneapolis Health Care Rally.  I was pretty proud of it.  Politics aside, I think it’s a really good picture.

Probably the most important lesson I am taking away from this experience with my health is that it’s not up to anyone else to fix what’s wrong with me.  Other people can offer guidance and support.  But that’s about all I can hope for.  In the end, it’s a personal journey. For those who are just catching up, here is a little insight into mine…

It all started about three years ago. I started developing a number of ‘seemingly unrelated’ symptoms after incurring a prolonged toxic exposure. It was the age old story of someone cutting corners to save a few bucks and creating a situation where someone else (that person being me) had to pay a dear price for it. But it’s complicated. So, I won’t get into that. The short story is that I breathed in a bunch of toxic gas. The gas contained chemicals which ate through the lining of my lungs and caused severe respiratory problems. I also developed GASTROINTESTINAL PROBLEMS.

growing wheatgrass
The respiratory issues started to break up after a few months (though they still recur even now). The GI issues were much more elusive. But, I was able to get them under control after about fifteen months through a combination of an elimination diet and GROWING WHEATGRASS in my window. This is when I discovered raw food. It became my baseline diet.

hospital
Shortly after the GI issue began to stabilize, I was hospitalized. Essentially, I started vomiting blood one day and was having a lot of difficulty breathing. Among other things. I was in the HOSPITAL for about five days. During that time, doctors performed every test known to man while I watched documentaries about MEERKATS. In the end, nobody was able to come up with a satisfactory explanation of what happened. I had had a very severe bout of hepatitis, but it wasn’t clear what caused it. There were some different theories thrown around. The long and short of it was that there were a lot of test results that were abnormal (several of which I didn’t find out about until five months later), and none of the theories offered an explanation that encompassed them all. Whatever it was, it’s clear that it wasn’t caused by any of the ‘normal’ reasons that people get hepatitis.

weird eye
Since that time, I’ve had a range of unexplained symptoms and test results. Things like my eye swelling up for no reason, fatigue, chest pains, twitching, etc. Things that I’ve gone into more detail about in EARLIER POSTS.

wbcs
About five months ago, I was sent to yet another specialist to see if he might be able to cast some light on the situation. The waiting list was very long, but that appointment finally came due this week. Needless to say, I was a little nervous about what the doctor was going to say. He put me at ease, right away.

‘I know what you’re worried about. And you don’t have lupus…’ I breathed a sign of relief. ‘…At least not YET.’ Not exactly what I wanted to hear, but I appreciated his honesty. There was one really good sign. There is a screening test for lupus, the ANA, which I’ve tested positive for twice. Well, this time, I was NEGATIVE!

lupus recovery dietSeveral months ago, I read a book called the LUPUS RECOVERY DIET by Jill Harrington. She was diagnosed with lupus and recovered fully by switching to a raw vegan diet. She mentioned in the book that she was able to not only reverse her symptoms but also her ANA test. Interestingly, shortly after I got my first positive ANA, I encountered another person who was in remission from lupus. She told me the exact same story. I’m not sure if that’s what happened here, but it’s a very interesting coincidence at the very least.

mad scientistThere was some bad news. There are some abnormal tests that he said ‘they weren’t smart enough to figure out’. Some strange antibody problems. According to my blood tests, I should have arthritis and mono. I’ve been testing positive for mono for a long time. With most people you can see a spike in certain antibodies followed by a recovery. But mine are just stuck on. This doesn’t necessarily mean I have mono. And in fact, it means that I probably never had mono. Sometimes people with immune system issues make errors in their immune response and this causes them to react positively to lots of things they don’t have. At least, this is how it was explained to me. I was also missing some antibodies that everyone has. This may or may not become an issue. He wasn’t sure what to make of the arthritis test. Apparently, I had high levels of rheumatoid factor. Usually, this means arthritis. But it can also mean lupus, hepatitis, liver damage, or mono. Things which are all kind of suspect.

So, all in all, I think it was a good visit. The way I’m interpreting it is that things are getting better. I’m doing all the right things. They said that my immune system suffered a very big insult and it might just take a while for it to recover.  He also said he thought it was time to start thinking about changes that I could make with my work environment.  This I’ve heard before and have been stewing on for a while.

It’s starting to feel like the beginning of a new era.  For the last three years,  I’ve been very open to everyone’s advice. I’ve tried a little of everything without making any judgements. Just observations. But now, I have a pretty firm idea of what’s working for me. And what’s not. Now it’s time to cut out the flack and really get focused on what IS working.  I suspect there will be some big changes coming soon.  I’ll keep you posted…

ADDENDUM: About five minutes after I posted this, I found an ARTICLE ABOUT AUTOIMMUNE DISEASE that pretty much sums it up. It’s the first article like this I’ve seen in a mainstream media outlet.

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Harvest Moon


September 6th, 2009

me gardening
I got a cue from the moon that it was time for a GARDEN update. I have to say that after my first season gardening, I am hooked! I absolutely LOVE gardening. It’s so relaxing, and we’ve hardly had to buy any food this summer.

swirls
I was worried at first when I saw this marvelously psychedelic swirl on one of our tomatoes. My boyfriend was convinced it was a worm eating our tomatoes.  I was so relieved to find that it just meant they were growing too fast, and the skin was cracking.

This is my boyfriend’s nephew holding our very first ripe tomato of the season. It was a caspian pink tomato and the flavor was stupendous. It was also perfect and flawless. The prettiest tomato to date. Though we have some really pretty ones that are just starting to turn now.

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stevia
This is my beautiful stevia plant. I’ve dried down the leaves and ground them into a powder to make sweetener. Though admittedly, it takes a lot of leaves to make not very much powder. I should save the seeds so I can grow a bunch next year (or whenever I actually have a yard at some nebulous point in the future).

habanero
Yesterday, I picked the first habanero! I think I’m going to make kale chips with it. I’m really addicted to this new chip we’ve developed. It was inspired by my recent trip to the West Coast. They were HUGE there. Though I think we encountered them first in PORTLAND. They’re a notcho cheese variety that will knock your socks off.

peppers
Everything is coming up peppers right now. We’ve got a couple red jalepenos. And a bunch of this Korean hot pepper. They’re HO CHI MINH‘s. They’re kind of like cayenne…but yellow…and surprisingly hotter.

nasturtium
I also have these edible flowers called nasturtiums. They didn’t really go in this salad so well. They’re kinda spicy. So I’ll check back with you about those…

kale
But all in all, the garden’s good! Now it’s time to start sharing the wealth.

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