Saturday, September 11, 2010

On drying herbs, cat bed, the benefits of craft wire and labeling

On drying herbs:   The simplicity of the process is mind boggling easy.... so how could one screw this up?
1.Cut herbs with long enough stems for tying
2.Wash herbs and lay out on clean, dry towel to soak up excess water
3.Make small bunches  and wrap wire around  stems (I recommend floral or craft wire), leaving at least  six inches  of wire free
4.Using a piece of opaque tape label your herbs individually
5. Hang in dry, out of the way, place for about a month (depends on humidity)

Things NOT to do!
1. Do NOT  skip the labeling process thinking you will remember which bunch was which. Cuz  unless you sit in a chair watching them dry everyday.....after a month..... you will forget (or go stark raving bonkers).  And don't think you will just KNOW which one is which....cuz once dried, they all really do look alike.
2.Do NOT use string or hemp  to tie your bunches.  As the herbs dry, they shrink  and fall out of the loops. (Then one morning you wake up, go into the kitchen to make coffee  and all your  carefully tended, precious herbs are on the floor and the cat is sleeping on them). Use wire and  about once a week pinch it tighter around the stems as they get smaller.
3. Do NOT  store your herbs before they are crispy dry.  We live in rainyville and one day you will reach for that antique jar of thyme....  open it up and be first contact with a  whole new life form.

I wish all good herbing!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Many apologies! So sorry for Astrology typo! Date was wrong! Forgive, forgive, forgive.

Yesterdays post had a crucial typo affecting one of the dates. It has now been corrected. Many,many,many apologies!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Astrology, Venus retrograde 2010, sex, money, dates to watch for

Venus Retrograde (rx) is one of the most intense planetary periods we go through (Mars retrograde is the other one). Fortunately  Venus only goes retrograde  every 18 months. Also fortunate it gives us a pattern follow. Even though Venus Retrogrades every 18 months , it only revisits the same issues once every 8 years. So, before you even read this,  get out your diary or jump into your way-back machine and go  to October of 2002. If you are old enough you can even peruse October 1994 for more info.
Venus will retrograde in  Scorpio on October 9th of this year.  Those walking in awareness probably already feel something coming as we are in the 'shadow 'period of the rx. Shades of things to come.... ideas,people,emotions,situations ,circumstances are probably beginning to seem familiar.... no matter how different  your life is from 8 years ago. Everyone of us has Venus in a different house in our personal charts.  That is the area that will be affected.   In that area Venus will turn on its charms and its darker side. Everything will be amplified. Venus is not only the planet of the feminine (maiden,mother,crone)  It is also resources, money , social interaction and the way you draw things to you. Scorpio is the sign of sex,death, transformation, shared resources , other peoples money and things hidden. You put these two together and things can get a bit muddy. Morality can go out the window making it hard to hang on to your integrity.  The feminine archetypes that emerge can manifest on the darker side, Demeter, Persephone, Inanna, Erishkegal, Medea, Delila and so forth. The maiden can become the whore, the mother...  a killer, the crone can become a witch.  The masculine archetypes can respond in kind by also manifesting the darker side of the male: the thug, the cold, hired hit man and the controlling  tyrant.

All that said, look for  a bit of spring fever this fall.  Sex,money, deceit will be the themes.  Look for people from your past to show up.  Especially people from 8 years ago.  Old flames, old friends, old acquaintances will be calling, emailing, internet stalking and sometimes just standing in line at the coffee shop ... just as surprised to see you.
During this time  ,in your close personal relationships, old issues that have not been addressed (or have been  beaten like the proverbial horse) will rear up again in such a way that they must be dealt with.
I recommend guarding your wallet, your heart and your mouth during this period as things can get easily lost, confused and out of control.  The rx will last 6 weeks... ending on November 19.
The dates to watch for during this period are  October 29 (give or take 48 hours) when light is thrown on the circumstance you find yourself in. This is the peak point of the rx, the manifesting of  the  shit hitting the fan, the breaking of tension ...if you will.
 Other dates include October 3 when mars will get involved bringing a male and female into each others purview..  Sex and fighting between couples and couples wannabe are the theme of the day. On October 25 Mercury gets involved and texting, emails,phone calls and other forms of messaging will be rampant. And Lastly,  The full moon on October 22/23  will intensify all emotions manifesting during this time.
Advice for this one?  Deal as best you can, don't throw out the baby with the bath water, don't strike out in anger. Don't try to justify your actions by claiming victim-hood (that's the most ass-pussy way of dealing with this rx and the most common manifestation).  If you can get through this intact , you wont have to deal with it for another 8 years.  I do recommend making some space for  self examination during this time to see where your own culpability lies.  You won't get another chance to see your own karma so up close and in your face for a long time. Use it well.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Classic, simple, bruschetta recipe, easy, quick focaccia recipe and a bottle of Gozzo Malbec

This is the best time of year for eating fresh from the garden. All the vegetables we have been waiting for  are ready and we can't eat fast enough.  Tonight everything on the table will be fresh from the backyard.  We will start with  Bruschetta.  Here is my favorite simple uncomplicated recipe.

3 Medium tomatoes, diced
1 red shallot, diced
1/4 cup fresh basil, diced
1 tbs olive oil
1 tbs balsamic or red wine vinegar (I use red wine vinegar cuz I made it)
pinch of sea salt to taste
pinch of pepper to taste

Put all ingredients in a bowl and stir gently (just enough to mix in the balsamic and olive oil... not enough to bruise the tomatoes and basil)

I will serve it over sliced toasted focaccia which will be fresh from my oven

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tbs active dry yeast
1 tbs sugar
1tsp salt
2 tbs olive oil
3/4 cup water
1 egg

First put water, sugar and yeast in a mixing bowl, stir gently, wait ten minutes until yeast mixture is foaming and creamy (this is called 'proofing'  cuz when its foamy ,you have proof your yeast is working)
Next, add all dry ingredients. knead extremely well (by hand five minutes, with  a mixer three minutes). Shape dough into a round (I recommend  a Little bit of olive oil on the hands for this), put on  a  greased flat pan. Next,  beat egg thoroughly in a separate bowl and brush lightly onto focaccia dough (this is a glaze that will give your bread a golden crispy crust). Let bread rise  for about 20 minutes then  gently place on the middle rack of  an oven, pre-heated to 425 for about 20 minutes or so.

Jimmy just woke up and is reading over my shoulder.... He hasn't even had breakfast and he's all excited about dinner now.  He's  already decided on the bottle of Gozzo Malbec.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Recipe of the day, 100 year old Chicken and Dumplings recipe for two , Simple and classic

Its raining in Seattle......S'PRISE!  So, today 's recipe is perfect for a cold, squishy day. Pre WWII  Chicken and Dumplings (for two).  Total cooking time 2 hours ...... This is a pre instant gratification food, and well worth the wait! If you  have a  few extra  people  around the table and need a little more... just use a bigger chicken, a bigger pot and add more vegetables.

You will need for this:
1 small cornish hen
1 medium onion
4 medium carrots
1 cup diced celery (optional)
1/2 tsp sage
2 tbs parsley (4 tbs if using fresh parsley)
1 tsp rosemary

Put the whole chicken in an 8 quart pot of water with the herbs and the onion (quartered). Add a little salt and pepper  (tasting throughout the cooking process is mandatory so only add a little salt at a time) Bring to a low boil for about 40 to 45 minutes. If chicken is frozen when you put it in.... boiling will take about an hour.  At  45-ish minutes, take chicken out of pot and put on plate to cool for about 5 minutes.  When cool enough to touch, pull all chicken meat  off bone and put chicken meat back into pot. Add carrots  and celery at this time  and bring back to a low boil  for about thirty minutes or until carrots are done.   Your liquid will probably boil down  a couple of times during this process so just add more water when needed. When the carrots and celery are done, drop the temperature from low boil to a simmer...  drop in your dumplings and put a lid on the pot..  Let them cook for 10 minutes covered and then uncover and cook for 10 more minutes.
How do you make dumplings?

From Great Grannys 100 year old biscuit recipe of course.

2 cups all purpose flour
4 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 tbs fat (yes!  grannys recipe says 'fat' because you can use shortening, vegetable oil , butter or in a pinch, bacon grease.... whatever you have handy)
3/4 cup milk

Put all dry ingredients in a bowl and  add 'fat'. Mix fat in with a fork until your ingredients are  sort of crumbly. Then add milk and  mix well.  Lay out dough on a piece of floured  wax paper. Pat down to about an inch thick. Cut into about 2 inch squares and add to pot.  Cook covered for 10 minutes and uncovered for another 10 minutes.

(If you want to make biscuits  instead of dumplings  just follow the recipe above , cut dough into biscuit rounds,  put in a greased, lightly  floured pan and cook in an oven preheated to 400 degrees  for about 15 minutes or so.)
Now I'll admit this all sounds labor intensive, but honestly I get in a  whole lot of conversing , net surfing, crocheting, telephoning and general puttering-around  activity while the cooking process is occurring. And if anyone wants me to do something I don't want to do... I just say  'cant...I'm cooking"

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Recipe of the day, Apple cake

Its apple time in Washington state. Apples, apples everywhere.  My next door neighbor gave me a lug of apples. So, what to do with them?  Here's a great recipe given to me by an online friend. Her family owned an apple orchard in eastern Wa. Here is her Great grandmothers recipe from the first great depression.

Grannys raw apple cake

4 cups diced apples
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup oil
2 eggs beaten
2tsp vanilla
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
2 cups flour
1 cup chopped walnuts

Stir together apples, sugar,oil,
add remaining ingredients, stirring well
pour into greased 9x13 pan
bake at 350 for 1 hour
Optional: sprinkle with powdered sugared  before serving

This is a wonderfully  moist cake that makes the whole house smell good while cooking