Making Words

When the only things on my agenda these days are physical therapy twice a week and an ongoing weeding appointment with the garden, it is surprisingly hard to find an hour of time in the day to devote mind, arms, feet, booty, and soul to writing, which is what I’m trying desperately to do this summer. It is particularly hard to do when it the heat is a sticky brown too-tight felt hat, my little cabin is a yeasty oven, and the mountains are swaying in the breeze, beckoning to me.   The following is a list of things that I have realized actually do count as “writing time”

-facebook, tastespotting, ordering another Urban Outfitters cardigan, watching youtube videos of toddler heavy metal kids singing in New York about zombies, or anything that involves baby animal pictures.
-lying on the floor of previously mentioned cabin listening to Rabbit Fur Coat by Jenny Lewis and the Watson, hypnotic and massively screwed up (the album, not me), spooning my copper colored dog, and/or eating ice cubes.  Handle with care because Jenny stirs up the deepest kind of mojo. I never listen to it when I’m actually writing, because I find the lyrics beautifully distracting.  Also, handle Copper with care because that dog can get gassy, fast. 
-planning my spectacular Independence Day Dessert. It is going to involve much red dye 40, white and blue food coloring, me thinks. 
-watching Black Books on Netflix.  That show is very British, very drunken, and very hilarious.
-swimming. There is a swimming hole not even two miles away. Totally bikeable, totally awesome.
-being excited about all the goings on in the world of politics, and equal rights for all.
-farmers markets and art walks

But shoot dang, things are happening fast! I’ve got a gig with the magazine Outside Bozeman, and I just got hired on to write an article about a non-profit Raptor rescue for another local magazine. Heck.Yes.

For a writing soundtrack, I prefer Phillip Glass’s Etudes for Piano. Try it. Wear your glasses. You’ll feel smart!”

 

good for your guts

Fermentation happens
Its the path of least resistance
Kimchi, koji, miso
tempeh, yogurt.
Sandor Katz, the Abraham of
a fermented nation.
Master of that flavorful space
between fresh and rotten
food gone so bad its good
but try to wait
just a few more months
and it will be
that
much
better.
A salty surprise
We’re good for your guts.

In other words, beet kimchi is brewing next to my bed (the warmest space in the house) and it sings me to sleep each night with a sweet, magical, ancient lullaby as it converts its sugar to acids and gasses. I.Can’t.Wait. 431661_894000997948_388883829_n

More from the food front; the garden is growing up so fast! The peas are potty-trained and needing to be trellised already, the beans are off to preschool.  The root vegetables are struggling in the clay-filled soil, but thank goodness for the No Vegetable Left Behind act, so everything can be harvested at once. 

Slap Your Mama Spicy Root Kimchi 

sea salt
1 lb. daikon radishes
1 lb. beets
1 lb. carrots 
a few Jerusalem artichokes 
3 inches fresh gingerroot
3-4  cloves garlic (or more!)
3-4 hot red chilies (or more!), depending on how much room for spice you have in your life. I use ghost peppers, but they pack a punch.

1. Wash vegetables thoroughly
2. Grate radish, beets, and carrots.  If you have a food processor with a grating attachment, this will save hours of time and inches of bloody fingers. 
3. Mix a brine of about 4 cups water and 3 tablespoons salt. 
4. Let  grated vegetables soak in the brine. Use a  plate or other weight to keep the vegetables submerged until soft, a few hours  or overnight. 
5. Prepare the spices: Grate the ginger; chop the garlic and onion; remove  seeds from the chilies and chop or crush, or throw them in whole. Kimchi can  absorb a lot of spice. Experiment with quantities and don’t worry too much about  them. Mix spices into a paste, adding grated horseradish if desired. 
6.. Drain brine off vegetables, reserving brine. Taste vegetables for  saltiness. You want them to taste decidedly salty, but not unpleasantly so. If  they are too salty, rinse them. If you cannot taste salt, sprinkle with a couple  of teaspoons of salt and mix. 
7. Mix the vegetables with the spice paste. Mix everything together  thoroughly and stuff it into a clean glass 1 gallon jar. Pack it tightly into the jar,  pressing down until brine rises. If necessary, add a little of the reserved  vegetable-soaking brine to submerge the vegetables. Weight the vegetables down  with a smaller jar, or with a zip-lock bag filled with some brine. Every day,  use your (clean!) finger to push the vegetables back under the brine. Cover the  jar to keep out dust and flies. 
8. Ferment in your kitchen or other warm place. Taste the kimchi every day.  After about two weeks of fermentation, when it tastes ripe, move it to the  refrigerator.

read more: “The Revolution Will Not be Microwaved” – Zandor Katz

No big deal, but I did hug Zandor Katz at a book signing.  That night ranked up there with the night I went to see this movie.

joyful-noise

backstrap

while being the part of the bra that holds things up, and hold women who wear them down, is also a quite delicious part of a deer.

Driving back from a fruitless (well, fungiless, if we’re getting technical), quest for the Mighty Morel, what looked like a tumbleweed but turned out to be a beautiful little deer was flung to the side of the road by an erstwhile minivan as it crossed looking for greener grass, no doubt.  With visions of venison, we grabbed her and spent an afternoon swatting flies and learning the ins and outs, quite literally, of butchering a roadkill deer. This is what I learned:

1. Montana is a rad state, because it is no longer illegal to harvest road kill, so in retrospect we didn’t actually commit a crime.
2.  Do not put the carcass in the back of a truck with 3 dogs whose sole motivation in life is food,
3. If the impact has burst the internal organs, its still all good because its really only poop if it gets to the intestines.  If its still in the stomach, its just half-digested grass, right? Rinse all meat well, repeat as necessary.
4. Once the hide is removed, a process easier said than done, stretch the hide out, stake it down, and salt it to prevent rot.  Do not let aforementioned dogs lick all the salt off the hide or they will become so thirsty they will have to drink a their weight in water to compensate and then will pee in the house, more than once probably.
5. Be aware that a field full of deer blood is a buffet to a bear.
6. Flies love a good carcass.
7. The Joy of Cooking, 1979 edition (same year as my Subaru Brat), has excellent pointers for this process, as well as pointers on processing armadillo and possum.
9. Venison has more protein than mushrooms, anyway.

So, yeah, this happened,

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Listful thinking

Crazy things will happen here, in this, my blog.  I will make many a list.  I may use bullet points…you can tell this is dangerous and crazy because of the word bullet.  I will give unsolicited advice on relationships, surviving your twenty somethings, and yes, even sex (gasp). I am going to add lots of amazing, healthy, gluten-free recipes, but when it really comes down to it, I cook to feed myself.  I like to cook fancy food to feed myself, but I believe that there are 3 things that inherently go well with everything else: ginger, garlic, and chocolate.  So get used to seeing a theme, people. 

GingerSnappish

Feeling spicey today, on my first day of being a Blogger (is that capitalized? I’d like to think so), so I thought I’d post a recipe I perfected whilst working at an awesome little bakery in a tiny mountain town in Arizona, so far away, but still so close to my heart.

These cookies are the best of all worlds, soft and chewy, sugary with a kick of spice at the end, , and gluten free.  Perfectly plain with a cup of lemon tea, or, if you’re feeling extra sassy, whip up the dreamy filling and make it a sandwich cookie kind of afternoon.

                                             Fiery Gingersnaps

Sift together –
2 c. gluten free flour blend
2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp freshly grated ginger
1/2 tsp. cloves
1/4 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp cayenne

Cream together:
1 c. sugar plus a little extra for sprinkling
1 tsp. fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 c. butter
1 egg
1/3 c. blackstrap molasses
1 tbsp. buttermilk

Mix sifted dry ingredients into creamed wet ingredients.

Drop dough by spoonful onto ungreased cookie sheet 2″ apart.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Let dough balls rest in refrigerator for about 10 minutes until chilled.  If you don’t have room in your fridge for a cookie sheet (who does, really?), then place dough balls on plate and then transfer to cookie sheet when chilled.  This step is important when baking cookies with gluten free flour because it helps the cookies hold their shape and not flatten out too much

Bake 8-10 minutes, until golden brown and cracked on top.

Allow to cool completely before filling (see recipe below)

Honey Almond Cream Cheese Filling

2 tbsp butter
1/2 cup cream cheese
1/4 cup raw honey
4 C powdered sugar

Mix well until light and fluffy.  Fill gingersnaps.  Enjoy immensely.

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And now, a bit about molasses, and why I always use the tangy, bitter, blackstrap molasses.

Molasses comes from sugar cane.  Surprisingly, it’s not that easy to extract all of the sucrose from sugar cane juice. After a first round of processing, which involves spinning the juice in a centrifuge and heating (boiling), you can get a lot of the sucrose out, but not all of it. The syrup that remains after this first round of processing is the light molasses you see in the grocery store. It’s also called “first” molasses and has the mildest taste of any molasses. Another round of processing is needed to further extract more sucrose. (The removal of sucrose from the molasses syrup is not all that significant on the nutrition side of things, but it is important to the manufacturer on the economic side because the removed sucrose can be further processed and sold as table sugar). This second round of processing further concentrates the syrup and also darkens it, resulting in the dark molasses you find in most grocery stores. Dark molasses is also called second molasses.

A third round of processing is possible, and this is the round that results in the product known as blackstrap molasses. Blackstrap molasses is the thickest form of molasses, the darkest, and the most dense in terms of minerals. Three rounds of heating are the reason for the very dark color of blackstrap molasses, because even though many sugars have been removed from the syrup, the sugars that do remain get caramelized from three rounds of heating. Sometimes you’ll only find blackstrap molasses in natural foods stores. Because of the superior mineral content of blackstrap molasses we prefer this version of the product. You’ll find significant amounts of calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium and selenium in blackstrap molasses.

The Kaleidoscope and the Metronome

Eagle pose. Garudasana. My yoga teacher told me that the mastery of this double edged tongue and body twister will allow me to optimally manage stress.  That if I snag my right foot behind my left knee while my arms are locked in a lover’s embrace so thoroughly that palms are pressed together at eye level (thumbs inward, Emily) then after that if I bend at the waist (straight spine straight spine) and hook my left elbow against my right knee, I will fly.  If I can achieve this pushing pulling equilibrium without poking myself in the inner eye, then, then i will be zen.  15 lessons later, I’ve flown several times, if you count a brief, abrupt downward motion that ends at floor level as flying.

Really, I’m no closer to being zen than i was before this yoga workshop; my hips are just looser, and not necessarily in a good way.

My life is a juxtaposition: I plod along to the tic tac tic tac of my eternal, internal time keeper until, just when I am about to implode from the monotonous white noise, my world explodes in a menagerie of colors and excitement. Sometimes it’s hideous, sometimes it’s beautiful. Recently, it’s been bloody (more about that later.) I’ve learned to ride these waves like i learned to ride that little pink bicycle with the banana seat: the balancing is the easy part, but it’s taken me months and years to learn to steer my way through.

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My favorite post-yoga snack is juicy, rejuvenating fruit.  And this time of year, when it is still so dreary, a baked warm peach topped with basil and honeyed yogurt, replenishes my body and my spirit.

2 Ripe Peaches (I’ve used yellow)
4 Large Basil Leaves
1 tbsp Honey
Juice of 1/2 Orange
15g Unsalted Butter
Plain Greek Yogurt, to serve
A Drizzle of Honey

 

Cut the peaches into thick slices. Shred the basil. Melt the butter in a small frying pan over a medium heat. Add the peaches and cook for a few minutes until the pan face of the peach slices are browned slightly. Flip the peach slices and repeat. Add the juice and the honey and turn up the heat a little until the mixture is bubbling and has formed a slight syrup. Stir in the shredded basil and serve with a scoop of yogurt and that drizzle of honey.  Enjoy, and be nurtured.