mulberryshoots

"Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?" ~ Mary Oliver

Category: Life & Spirit

farmers’ market ‘gold’ . . .

butter

On Saturday mornings, I like to go to the farmer’s market in town because even though there aren’t that many participants, Fivefork Farms, a CSA flower farm from Upton, MA. serves as the anchor, drawing lots of customers from our town and nearby places. And I like to go to chat with Grace and her Dad while picking out some flowers to adorn the kitchen table for the week.

Today, I found this wonderful Fall bouquet of mixed flowers . . . AND walked by a new vendor from a Jersey cow farm in Lunenberg, MA. who had a few bins of freshly made BUTTER from grass-fed Jersey cows. I commented that I had never seen butter offered before and the fellow said they usually sell all of it to a local bakery and had a few bins left that he brought to the market.

Wow! – what a wonderful find! Having fresh filet of sole and asparagus for dinner tonight too! – with lemon (fresh!) butter!

YAY!

 

‘sticking our necks out! . . . ‘

giraffe_couple_in_love_600

Giraffes are wonderful creatures aren’t they? When the Market Basket employees went on strike a couple of years ago, they chose a stuffed giraffe as their mascot because they were “sticking their necks out.”

They won their cause and Arthur D. Demoulas is now in charge of the business. Whew! Here’s a link to a NYTimes article today that indicates there are four species of giraffes, not one. If you take a moment to look at one for awhile, you will see what extraordinary creatures they are!

giraffes-tall_4fea8e5b9ff831a3

serving bone broth . . .

For anyone who might be thinking of trying this at home, I thought it might be helpful to see what the broth looks like when it is stored and served.

bone-broth-servingsThis photo shows containers holding approximately 3 cups of broth in each one. The one in the middle is fresh from the freezer where you can see a congealed layer of fat on the top. It comes out easily after running a knife around the edge and looks a little like wax.

The container on the right shows the gelatinous broth before it is thawed completely. And the cup on the left contains warm broth.

By the way, it tastes good. Enough flavor to make it satisfying to drink. It’s also not too bland. I’m waiting to see whether I go through all three containers today or not.

Probably will. Worth it too.

bone broth diet: minus day one

marrow-bones-in-the-cooker

It’s Sunday and my Instant Pot arrived from Amazon mid-morning. I’m going to open it up, rinse it out and read the directions for making beef bone broth.

But first, I read this great article which helped me to decide to ROAST the beef bones first before putting them with carrots, celery, onion, garlic and apple cider into the Instant Pot. So I took out a pack (about 3 lbs.) of beef marrow bones from the freezer which I bought yesterday and heated them up in the microwave to defrost them. Then, I put them into the oven and roasted them for about an hour, turning them over midway – smelled divine.

Then, I opened Dr. KellyAnn’s book, “Bone Broth Diet” which arrived in the same delivery as the Instant Pot. I decided the Instant Pot could wait until I read through the parts of the book that I needed to get started. I thought it was written well with lots of supporting nutritional information and anecdotes. The most important thing I noted is that her recipe for beef bone broth included beef short ribs in addition to the bones which would enrich the broth and enhance the flavor.

Since I also needed to buy carrots, I went to the grocery store and bought a pack of beef rib bones and some spring water to replenish our supply. Back home again, I turned on the oven from roasting the bones and put three pieces of beef rib bones in to roast for about 45 minutes.

With the beef bones/ribs roasting away in the oven, I sat down to read the manual for operating the Instant Pot. Looked pretty simple to me: open the lid, fill not too high, close the lid, push the right buttons to cook “soup.”

After waiting a half hour for some steam to come out, it didn’t look like the pot was heating up or building any pressure. I looked online at some Youtube videos about how to turn the pot on properly. Not much help. I then stopped the machine by pushing “cancel”, unplugged the pot and opened the lid. The liquid was barely warm. Baffled, I put the lid back on, plugged it in and pressed “soup” again. I then tried to add more minutes but suddenly, there were 3 beeps and the LED window showed “ON.” Well, that was an improvement. I then learned online from a very helpful guy that he NEVER uses any of the pre-programmed buttons like “soup” or “stew.” He just presses the manual button, adds on the time he wants and the machine beeps and turns on to what he’s programmed. Why wasn’t that obvious from reading the manual or watching the videos? Go figure.

Back to the diet book while waiting for the Instant Pot to act “instantly,” I also noted that in addition to making and mini-fasting with the bone broth two days a week, that this miracle diet requires you to do what every other diet in the world requires you to do:

  1. Drop gluten foods – breads, flour, pasta
  2. Drop glycemic vegetables – corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes, kabocha squash
  3. Drop sugar, fast food and anything that we all know is bad for us.

DO eat high-quality protein meats (grass-fed beef, organic chicken, etc.)

DO eat lots of organic vegetables. Tons!

DO eat organic eggs with bacon (yep!)

DO NOT EAT english muffins, toast, sandwich bread, rolls with hamburgers, pizza crusts, (you get the picture.)

So, outside of the bone-broth twist, (because there have been 2-day mini-fast diets around too,) this seems like most diets out there: Paleo et al. that caution low carbs, non-gluten, no sugar etc.- including getting off the couch and getting some exercise even if it’s limited to walking every day or so.

Meanwhile, I am encouraged to report that the aroma alone of roasting beef bones and ribs in the oven almost justifies making the bone broth whether you’re on a diet or not. Can’t wait to taste it after it’s had its run in the Instant Pot pressure cooker, false starts and all! If it makes the 2-day a week mini-fast endurable, it might all be worth it!

[Maybe the glitches in getting the machine to work is due to Mercury still being in Retrograde until the 22nd, eleven more days from now.]

Note: Here’s a ‘bare bones’ recipe without all the editorializing above:

  1. Take 3 lbs. marrow bones and 2-3 pieces of beef ribs; roast in 425 degree oven for an hour, turning pieces halfway thru
  2. Cut up 3 organic carrots, 3 stalks of celery, a small whole vidalia onion and 1-2 cloves of peeled garlic (I used 1 cut in half)
  3. Place bones/meat/vegetables into cooker pot
  4. Add spring water to an inch lower than “maximum”
  5. Add 1 tablespoon Bragg’s apple cider vinegar and 1 teaspoon sea salt, 1 bay leaf

Turn on Instant Pot manually to 75 minutes. See if that’s long enough once the pot pressure has vented and you can take a look at the broth. Cook longer if desired. Cool, pour through a strainer; store in quart containers and freeze.

Honestly? the aroma of it smells like this beef bone broth could be an elixir for life! I’m glad that the ‘unseen hand of the Universe’ led me to it!

 

“feast or famine diet” . . .?

a FIESTA of dahlias from Fivefork Farms this a.m. . .

a FIESTA of dahlias from Fivefork Farms this a.m. . .

dahlias, majestic in a favorite vase . . .

dahlias, majestic in a favorite vase . . .

So, if you read the last post, you’ll know that I’ve come across a 21 day diet that includes 2 days of fasting, drinking bone broth and eating regularly the rest of the time. I’ve refined this somewhat into what I call a “feast or famine” diet that includes:

  1. 2 days apart fasting – drinking juices and bone broth;
  2. 2 days of salad suppers – salads on a dinner plate with a serving of protein (teriyaki salmon, sliced steak, shrimp)
  3. 3 days left for foodie menus – pappardelle pasta with veal ragu, Peking duck, teriyaki chicken thighs on the grill, etc.
'famine' fixin's for beef bone broth. . .

‘famine’ fixin’s for beef bone broth. . .

Anyhow, I’m going to try it out, starting tomorrow when the Instant Pot arrives and I make up some bone broth to store in the freezer.

Starting Monday, September 12th, I’ll start the 21-day diet clock. And on October 3rd, I’ll weigh in (couldn’t resist the pun) and see where things stand.

Meanwhile, here are more photos of the beautiful dahlias at the end of summer – and the beginning of our weekend!

feast-or-famine-1

the ‘unseen hand of the Universe’ today. . .

 

a flexible glass tube flower vase "lost" and now "found" . . .

A friend from my college days wrote to me today that she didn’t understand how elements in my book, “Uncommon Hours” combined such concepts as transcendental values, the tarot, horoscopes and the “unseen hand of the Universe” as components of a consistent world or life-view. I, in turn, was baffled because it’s exactly how my life seems to perk along everyday.

For example, I spent quite a bit of time today in the local Bank of America office trying to sort out some accounting errors and to report fraudulent activity on my checking account. It took a long time because the Bank’s fraud department didn’t answer the phone even after an hour’s wait in the manager’s cubicle. After I went home to try the fraud line again, I returned to the bank to close out my account and open a new one. During this time, I had become friendly with the bank manager who helped me with these transactions. During our chitchat while waiting to connect with said fraud department, she told me about “Instant Pot” – an electric pressure cooker.  I was delighted to hear about it because I’ve used a manual pressure cooker to cook brown rice macrobiotically but had stopped doing it because it took too long. She was enthusiastic about this kitchen gadget that would cook rice, make stock and stews as a pressure cooker (meaning fast) and could also be used as a slow cooker. When I went home, I read about it on Amazon, saving it in my checkout box.

Later this evening, I watched a chamber music special called “Simple Gifts,” a “Live from Lincoln Center” program about artist-led performances at the Shaker community in Kentucky, held in an incredible tobacco barn that was magical in its appearance with daylight showing between the slats and superior performances of artist-led chamber music. I thought it was an interesting concept not to have a conductor, but for various musicians leading the rest of the ensemble themselves, depending on whether/when they had the lead melody including wind instruments. It’s such a simple and basic concept but I had not seen it performed with such a large ensemble. I was also impressed by the co-directors, a husband-wife musician team who played the piano and cello: Wu Han and David Finckel who are also directors of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center.

Directly after the special, the PBS station segued right into a healthy diet program featuring a Dr. KellyAnn somebody. She was a little grating so I turned it off but idly looked up her book online and read about her regimen to lose weight and turn your health around in 21 days because I had resolved to get in better shape just tonight after we had finished dinner. Her routine turned out to rely on two days of “fasting” and sipping homemade bone broth from beef bones or chicken bones, etc. simmering on the stove for six hours or so.

So if you’re still with me, of course, that brings my day full circle to the convo at the bank earlier where I learned about the Instant Pot which, (voila!,) is capable of making stock that takes hours on the stove in just a couple of hours in its electric pressure cooker mode. Get it? The unseen hand of the Universe, right?

But what about the horoscope part? I had read that Jupiter, a very powerful and positive planet, would enter G.’s birth sign today for the first time in twelve years, perhaps auguring good fortune. Lo and behold this afternoon, we received some good news from a Court ruling, giving us a small victory we had hoped for. Maybe we might even be turning the corner in this David vs. Goliath battle! See what I mean?

The opening question above also challenged the spiritual premise of my book and my first over-reaction was to ditch it, frustrated that yet another reader didn’t “get it” the way that I had intended. After today’s events though, I decided not to give up on it just because someone else could not imagine a life filled with so much serendipity and synchronicity.

Today has been a busy day and I feel the Universe has given me a good lesson (again!)  Hallelujah! This is the way my life goes along, just about every day. I’m not kidding. Is it just following your intuition? Seems like more than that to me, doesn’t it?

Thank you Helpers!

Note: I ordered the “Instant Pot” to make bone broth per the 21 day diet plan. Will buy ingredients today at Mekong, a Vietnamese market in town and make a first batch of bone broth after the pot arrives and I figure out how to do it. Stay tuned.

“mise en scene” . . .

plantings on our back deck. . .

plantings on our back deck. . .

 

 

 

 

A quiet Sunday morning on Labor Day Weekend.

Here are a few photos I took which show our tranquil home – which, in retrospect, seems to be the only thing I’ve ever wanted. We are lucky to have each other doing what makes sense to us and sharing our adventures together.

favorite cup of coffee. . .

favorite cup of coffee. . .

Thanks to the Helpers & the Sage!

leaves and shoots today . . .

leaves and shoots today . . .

 

a favorite pottery teapot made by Warren McKenzie on the soapstone countertop. . .

a favorite pottery teapot made by Warren McKenzie on the soapstone countertop. . .

 

Labor Day Weekend Plans . . .

our living room cleaned up a few years ago . . .

our living room cleaned up a few years ago . . .

 

I guess some people have getaway plans for the long Labor Day Weekend that we just started. Looking around me at the various areas in our living space and because George is out on piano moving appointments in the mornings today, tomorrow and Monday, I’ve decided to clean up the house. To truly make a dent on what I’ve been procrastinating about all summer.
Yep, even watched an online video to de-clutter and organize your house in ONE WEEKEND.
Here are helpful suggestions:
1. The most important axiom is to “find a home for each item you want to keep.”
2) DAY ONE & TWO: “Sort “like” with “like things.” This is an important guideline – rather than just willy-nilly going around trying to re-sort things to make the room look better. So, consolidate plants with plants, books with books, magazines with magazines, clothing, bathroom stuff, etc. etc. Just sorting things will make a big difference I think. And it’s easy to do while getting one’s spirit in gear to do a lot of de-cluttering in one-go this weekend.
3) “Decide what to give away.” This is usually the hardest step for me because I like what I have and usually feel like I’m going to use or read something again. . . later. And there’s usually more than I need and not enough space to put it all, never mind finding a ‘home’ for each thingie. Hmmmmmm.
4) DAY THREE: “Organize what you’re keeping.” Instead of buying storage containers before you do these steps, buy them after you see/decide what you’re really going to keep.
5. “Work in half hour increments taking a 5 minute break up to 3 hours at a time.” This is helpful because you can wear yourself out going gangbusters for an hour and then give up completely for the rest of the weekend.
I would add an additional caveat – which is to:
6.  “Reward yourself for a day’s work well done.”What I have in mind for today’s efforts is to go to the fish market this afternoon for some sashimi-grade yellow-fin tuna to make a marinated raw tuna salad called “po-kay” or “poke” in Hawaii. I saw a feature about making it on a cooking show late last night and it looked cooling and delicious served with rice for dinner.
proposed dinner "reward" for cleaning out the house this weekend!

proposed dinner “reward” for cleaning out the house this weekend!

So that’s the plan on this early Saturday morning for this Labor Day weekend! More to come, hopefully!

mother nature . . .

East or West, Mother Nature knows best! . . .  A yellow goldfinch on a maroon echinacea flower.

photo taken by JEvans. . .

photo taken by JEvans. . .

letting go . . . ?

lovely textured landscape in Nova Scotia near our cottage. . .

lovely textured landscape in Nova Scotia near our cottage. . .

Well, it’s Monday morning and I woke up after a bad night dreaming about the world coming to an end. Yes, there’s a level of stress in our lives this week. And no, there’s nothing we haven’t already done to try to alleviate it and have things go our way. In fact, this oscillating situation has been with us for a long time. . . way too long, but there’s nothing we can do about it except to manage it as best we can.

In any case, an article from the NYTimes popped up after breakfast and an old familiar Zen tale appeared. Here it is:

Two traveling monks reached a town where there was a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. The rains had made deep puddles and she couldn’t step across without spoiling her silken robes. She stood there, looking very cross and impatient. She was scolding her attendants. They had nowhere to place the packages they held for her, so they couldn’t help her across the puddle.

The younger monk noticed the woman, said nothing, and walked by. The older monk quickly picked her up and put her on his back, transported her across the water, and put her down on the other side. She didn’t thank the older monk; she just shoved him out of the way and departed.

As they continued on their way, the young monk was brooding and preoccupied. After several hours, unable to hold his silence, he spoke out. “That woman back there was very selfish and rude, but you picked her up on your back and carried her! Then, she didn’t even thank you!”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk replied. “Why are you still carrying her?”

So, that’s today’s lesson so early in the morning! Let something go, if only the way you’re not handling things so well. Mitigate one’s frustration at something you can’t change.

Wow, wouldn’t that be great?