Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Here come the dandelions! I’ve harvested my first colander of the season from the back yard. Lovely, nutritious, FREE! Weeds, you say? Oh ye of little imagination. (Of course I have noticed no one came over for supper the night I put the word out that we were having dandelion greens.)

Made low-fat gluten free granola the other day and have concocted my third batch of Thermos bottle yogurt, here’s how ya do it: heat some milk to just below boil (about 120 degrees - use candy thermometer), cool it to between 112 and 115 degrees, mix in a few tablespoons plain yogurt (make sure to use live-culture yogurt) and pour the mixture into a pre-warmed Thermos bottle, screw down the lid and wait 6 to 8 hours. That’s all there is to it. I like to drain off the whey for a cream-cheese consistency. (Put yogurt into a cheesecloth lined strainer over a bowl. Let drain in the fridge overnight.) Be sure to save a few tablespoons of yogurt as starter for your next batch.

What’s next in my getting-back-to-basics, living-off-the-land campaign? Tie dye peasant skirts? Macramé plant hangers? Dumpster diving? Backyard chickens? Stay turned.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

This week California is being washed into the Pacific, the east coast is under mountains of snow and ice . . . and I am getting an early start on spring garden chores. Perky primroses are going in, yard bags are being filled to the brim with last year’s leaves, and muscles that have been sleeping all winter are stretching out. Sure, there is a gentle drizzle in the air but we north-westerners consider that an asset: free skin moisturizer.

It’s a time of endings and beginnings - my favorite season. I am solidifying healthy new habits as I meet the challenges of high blood pressure and a few unnecessary pounds (actually 20 - but who’s counting). Have shed seven pounds this month and found it to be easier than I imagined. Just made some small adjustments to how I do things: cut all portions in half, use only salad plates, use meat-cheese-wine as seasonings only, double up on vegetables and fruit, oatmeal for breakfast.

In addition, I increased my yoga practice from three times a week to an hour a day, thus tightening up as I slim down. Feels really good on those gardening-stiff muscles! I’m considering a yoga retreat later in the year if I can work out the logistics, financing, and scheduling.

Update on Twinkle, my new rice cooker: I’ve tried it on basmati, brown, and jasmine rice to great success. Enjoyed a super bowl of rice with fresh chives from my garden. Yum! Haven’t turned Twinkle loose on oatmeal yet - though it’s so easy to cook oatmeal on the stove, why bother? It cooks the rice a bit stickier than I like but I think I should be able to perfect it if I tinker with the water-to-rice ratio a little bit.

There’s something about spring that brings out the mad scientist in me. Yesterday I revived the nearly-lost 1960s art of making yogurt in a Thermos bottle. Haven’t done that since the good-ol’ granola days of yore. Of course I could have blown fifty bucks on a fancy electic yogurt maker to sit next to Twinkle . . . nah, what fun would that be? (The yogurt was wonderful by the way - sweet and creamy.)