Friday, December 30, 2005

I'm Too Healthy to Be Sick

Oh, germs. They can really get you. Usually when my husband Rick gets sick, I manage to stay healthy from my incredible vegetable consumption. Somehow with the holidays and the frenetic energy at this time of year, the little buggers got me. I lost the entire day after Christmas to sleep. The cough I've had since then isn't so pleasant either but I can live with it. What's really bothering me is my stomach. It's upset and it aches. Therefore I just cannot eat the way that I truly want to.

It's almost unheard of but I haven't eaten salad 4 days. I'm still eating my veggies but only in small, cooked portions. I've added ginger, garlic and miso to my spinach in the hopes that the combo will speed my healing.

I don't usually get sick so the best part is when I feel better and can appreciate how well I usually feel.

I am contemplating making a big pot of black eyed peas and serving them with greens and cornbread for traditional Southern good luck on New Year's Day. I find it a great way to start the year. And my guys can skip the greens and that means there's more for me.

If you want your peas to have a smoky flavor you can buy some veggie bacon oir ham and cut it up after the peas are cooked, or add some Smoked Spanish paprika (look for this on my website in 2006) when cooking the beans. Either way they will be delicious.

Here's to your good luck in 2006. May your life be filled with health, happiness, prosperity and peace.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rain, Cold and Delicious Kale

Last Saturday was the first time that I'd done any kind of cooking at a market in the rain. It was really storming; so much so that many vendors packed up and went home. The 5 quarts of soup I'd made and brought didn't even last 2 hours although the samples were only a few tablespoons. It did add some warmth but I still left cold and wet.

When I got home I couldn't wait to make more soup so I cooked up some Potato Leek soup that was thick and creamy. I used All Red potatoes which are pink inside but still the soup was green. I hoped to see a light pink soup.

I also cooked more kale but this time I used my pressure cooker. I am somewhat of a pressure cooker fanatic. I put the kale leaves in the cooker with a couple of chopped cloves of garlic, half a hot pepper and some salt. I brought it to high pressure for 2 minutes and then quick-released it. It was perhaps the most delicious and tender kale that I have ever had. I am going to repeat this with a bunch of Red Russian kale that I purchased that rainy Saturday and check the results.

I also learned that cold and wet farmers may be more likely to give you deals on their produce rather than have to pack it up in the cold and rain. I got an extra bunch of leeks, a bag of Satsuma mandarins and 33% off a bunch of green onions. I suspect that there may have been other deals but I was too wet to care.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Day, Another Adventure

The moon is almost full and it has an effect but not sure exactly what. Last night I actually sat with my family and watched TV - PBS, and saw a show on Antartica with Jon Krakauer in it. He mentioned that an adventure (when climbing high mountains in treacherous conditions) is due to lack of planning. For me, adventure adds to life and is usually not life-threatening. It allows me to be flexible and see what there is to see.

Today I had an extremely tasty lunch of Rising Moon artichoke and organic olive ravioli with just a drizzle of McEvoy olive oil, some salad mix on the side and an orange for dessert. I am working on a week long menu for a client and it has me focusing more on meals and snacks. I tend to graze. I suspect that like most people I eat "what is there" which I heard for years from private nutrition counseling clients. I know what I've got around and if it's not what one might consider "healthy" it was a choice. But, hey, it's the holidays and this time of year only comes around once.

As I've previously mentioned, I don't deviate much in what I eat. I always feel best when I eat lots of veggies. This morning at the farmer's market I bought a bag of kale. I can't wait to cook it all up with garlic and drizzle balsamic vinegar over it. Yummy. The farmer reminded me that the kale will taste really good now because we've had a frost. He's right.

On Saturday I will be standing out in the cold at the farmer's market in Santa Rosa and handing out my Curried Pear and Squash Soup for all to taste (see my website for the recipe). I want to add some warmth to day for market shoppers. While I usually use only Delicata squash I am going to mix my squash and put lots of it in, along with some ginger and maybe even a bit of hot pepper to really take the chill off the day.

P.S. And what a cold and stormy day it was. But more about that at another time.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Opening Your Eyes

There are lots of people in the world who want to meet you. I am sure of it even if you are not. I am not an extrovert (although writing a book and trying to sell it has forced me out in the world a bit beyond my comfort level) but I find that connecting with people is important. So, in my daily dealings in my somewhat insulated little world, I often manage to say hello or how are you?

The other day I met Kathi of Full Circle Farm Soaps (see links) at a Gift Faire that has gone from carrying locally made goods to having all kinds of "stuff". We spoke for a bit. I had met Kathi many times before as she attends an annual local craft fair that I usually attend with my family. She said, "I didn't see you at Finley this year." I explained that I had been there but was rushing through.

Now, I don't know if you know much about soap but I took a soap making class with a friend of mine. We were thinking about making soap together as a holiday gift one year. After taking the class I suggested that we make jam or something else a bit easier. Making soap is like baking in the science, chemistry and exactness departments. It's too difficult for me to stick to the guidelines. I have been known to not even follow my own recipes in a class (which caused one of my students who is just learning to cook to comment about it). For me, a recipe is a jumping off point.

In fact yesterday I was selling my books as part of an open house at Mom's Head Gardens ( in the very south part of Santa Rosa. I knew that I wanted to bring food but just wasn't sure what. I had made hummus on Friday and had a bit left (having given Cynthia of Biz Diva the rest of the roasted red pepper hummus). I decided to make more so once again I added a half cup of roasted red pepper to make reddish hummus. Then I realized that I would't have enough hummus to fill my container and remembered that I had some frozen spinach so I squeezed the liquid out of it. Then I made spinach hummus. I created a beautiful yet easy layered hummus dip in less than 10 minutes. I lined an unusual looking plastic container (leftover from organic chocolate chip cookies) with plastic wrap. I put in the plain hummus, then the red pepper and then the spinach. When I got to the open house I put a plate on the top of the open container and flipped it over. I had a beautiful dip that I surrounded with my favorite crackers from Dr. Kracker (see links) and voila - the almost instant anti-Martha alter ego emerged. People loved what I did and so did I. It was a brief moment of inspiration so easy to do that I knew that I wanted to share it with you.

What I keep discovering is that the connections that we make with others in life keeps life interesting, entertaining and worthwhile. I do what I do for that reason- so I can spread the vegetable- and healthy-eating message in a delicious way. (But if any of you know Oprah personally, please let me know.)

Monday, December 05, 2005

Overstuffed at The Holidays

I don't tend to overeat during the holiday season since veggies are my favorite food. OK, I will admit that I am a sucker for chocolate but only the dark kind and as we know it provides beneficial antioxidants. Heck eating chocolate may even lower my blood pressure although it's already just fine. I'll even eat the 85% dark which truly has minimal sugar and lots of attractive bitter flavor. My favorite bar is made by Dagoba ( and is called Xocolatl (the Mayan name for chocolate). It's 74% dark with chilies, cacao nibs, maca and nutmeg. Maybe it gets my endorphins going or is an aphrodisiac but for me it's all about the bittersweet and hot taste.

I heard about chocolate with smoked sea salt on it from Seattle. Sounds strange to me but since I really like smoked salt (look for it on my website early next year) I might give it a try. This is a good reminder about being open to possibilities, for one never knows.

I like to take time during the holiday season to show appreciation. I find that the best gifts are those that someone would not get for themselves - be it a hug, a smile, a warm hat, a massage, expensive oil, a three dollar chocolate bar and on and on. Or make gifts.

There's nothing easier to make than flavored vinegar. Get a nice bottle, some halfway decent or better red wine, white wine or golden balsamic (the best is Spectrum organic) vinegar. Put clean herb sprigs in the bottle along with peppercorns, garlic cloves, chile peppers or a combination of these and fill the bottle with vinegar. Put in the closet until gift giving time and there you go. Some of my favorite combinations are basil, garlic and peppercorns or rosemary and garlic. Let you imagination go wild. This vinegar can be sprinkled on salads, eliminating the need for oil, or used in your favorite salad dressing recipe.

I also like to make vegan biscotti as a gift since they last a long time and people think that they are hard to make. There is a great article about them (but alas without my wonderful recipe but feel free to email me for it) at Vegetarian Resouce Group (

Remember to take the time to breather deeply, the holidays are coming. And then we can look forward to a New Year.