Sunday, June 29, 2008

Food Memory
Remembering my Mother, domestic goddess, mother of seven
and her famous rhubarb crunch

Here's a photo of my mother with my little sis on our back porch in Idaho. This was taken during the days of her nationally-renowned domestic goddess phase when she almost single-handedly raised 7 children and baked 3 meals a day including amazing desserts like the rhubarb crunch listed below! Not only was she a domestic goddess, she made her Hollywood debut as the star of Name That Tune close to the year when this photograph was taken.

Rhubarb reminds me of a traditional Sunday dessert my mother often made in June and July. My mother has been away for about a year on a humanitarian mission and I miss her, especially today, so I made her Rhubarb Crunch. It's a gooey cobbler with a crunchy topping that helps me remember her! It was a recipe she learned from her own mother.

Rhubarb Crunch
My mom and her well-loved recipe

1 cup flour
1 cup oats (not quick oats)
1 cup brown sugar
1 cube butter

(Mix together, add cinnamon if you'd like! You can also replace the white flour with wheat flour.)

Several (7 or 8) stalks of rhubarb

1 cup water
1 cup sugar (or half honey)
1 tsp vanilla

Put it together according to following steps and then cook at 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes. Test rhubarb with fork to make sure it's soft.


Take about 6-7 cups of rhubarb
Cut off the edges and wash well

Cut up into cubes

Take the flour, butter and brown sugar and mix together.

Add 1 cup of sugar into water and heat over the stove until it's melted and hot but not boiling (I used 1/4 cup wildflower honey and 3/4 cup raw sugar.)

Put half of the crumbly mixture onto the bottom of a pan, layer with chopped up rhubarb, then pour on the sugar/water mixture.

Then top with the remainder of the crumbly mixture.

And bake for 1/2 hour at 350 degrees.

Sunday dinners at my home growing up were always memorable, the smell of pot roast, onions & rosemary in the air when we arrived home from our Mormon church meeting famished from sitting for 3 hours and eating only a meager morsel of bread (the sacrament.) But for my mother, (who had 7 children) Sunday was most likely a three- ringed circus trying to get us all fed and to the dinner table while the food was still hot. Of course it helped that my Dad called for us with his commanding deep voice and we'd all coming running like little mice from our respective rooms to perch at the table and pick at the food until my Dad caught us and told us to knock it off. We'd wait till everyone was there and then it was time for the dinner prayer.

We always prayed over dinner, different variations of: "Dear God, thank you for the food and please bless it to nourish and strengthen our bodies and do us the good that we need... AMEN!"

We loved the youngest siblings' versions. I'm not even sure they knew they were saying "nourish and strengthen." What came our was usually something like "nurse-en-stank" - sounds Scandinavian doesn't it?

And I remember closing my eyes and though I was supposed to be imagining the God who provided the food and meditating on how grateful I was, I admit, most of the time, I pictured the dinner table in my head and the exact location of the dish of mashed potatoes- deliciously soft with a square of yellow butter melting in the center. I pictured this so I would be the first to grab it when the last Amen was said.

My mother was the kind of woman who involved all of us in cooking dinner and in preparing the table as well.

Finding the Centerpiece

It was a time-honored tradition in my family for someone to go out and find a centerpiece for the middle of the table. In the summer, we picked stray wildflowers: daisies, camas, yarrow, sunflowers and others and put them into the prettiest vase we could find in the cupboard. In the fall we found dried weeds and grasses; branches with pine cones still attached and things like that. In the winter, I think we looked in the cupboards and drawers for anything that would make-do, like a candle that Mom had caught a toddler gnawing on and we stuffed it inside a candle holder of our own fashioning then used something round, like a berry wreath left over from Christmas to circle the candle. All of these lovely centerpieces were highly prized by my mother who made us feel as though we had just painted the Mona Lisa or something.

And dinner always consisted of something green (a veggie) something fried, some kind of bread (muffin, biscuit, etc.) and most of the time there was something on the table that today would be called "local:" Elk or antelope meat or trout that my Dad had bagged in the woods or caught in the stream. We ate wild mushrooms. We loved morels and picked them right by the river close to our home. Idaho potatoes of course! Or we'd have canned food that my mom had canned the previous summer: pears, peaches, cherries, or pickles or even something that our family friends, the Fosters, had brought us fresh from their garden down in the valley south of our home. They brought us things like snap peas and rhubarb.

So rhubarb has become one of my comfort foods. It reminds of of a few things- my mom, because she made the most amazing rhubarb crunch and the Fosters, who often brought us rhubarb from their home.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Gary Nabhan speaks in Eugene, OR
Gary and a panel, including Aggie Pilgrim, discuss food, healing the earth and native involvement in ecological restoration

Gary Habhan at the West Eugene Wetlands. This week I attended the Willamette Valley Indian Cultural-Ecological Restoration Workshop.

Gary Nabhan spoke, his new book Renewing America's Food Traditions: Saving and Savoring the Continent's Most Endangered Foods, is about how if we want to save endangered foods, we must start eating them. Check out a prior post, where I discuss this!

Here is the warm and wise indigenous grandma Aggie Pilgrim, a Takelma Indian Elder. She is one of the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers. She spoke and prayed at the gathering.

Aggie would like for all of us to pray that she and the 13 Indigenous Grandmothers will get a audience with the pope where they will ask him to REVOKE a 15th century edict that called for the "doctrine of conquest."

According to their Web Site:
WE ARE THIRTEEN INDIGENOUS GRANDMOTHERS who came together for the first time from October 11 through October 17, 2004, in Phoenicia, New York. We gathered from the four directions in the land. . . affirming our relations with traditional medicine peoples and communities throughout the world, we have been brought together by a common vision to form a new global alliance. . . Ours is an alliance of prayer, education and healing for our Mother Earth, all Her inhabitants, all the children and for the next seven generations to come.

We are deeply concerned with the unprecedented destruction of our Mother Earth, the contamination of our air, waters and soil, the atrocities of war, the global scourge of poverty, the threat of nuclear weapons and waste, the prevailing culture of materialism, the epidemics which threaten the health of the Earth's peoples, the exploitation of indigenous medicines, and with the destruction of indigenous ways of life.

We, the International Council of Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers, believe that our ancestral ways of prayer, peacemaking and healing are vitally needed today. We come together to nurture, educate and train our children. We come together to uphold the practice of our ceremonies and affirm the right to use our plant medicines free of legal restriction. We come together to protect the lands where our peoples live and upon which our cultures depend, to safeguard the collective heritage of traditional medicines, and to defend the earth Herself. We believe that the teachings of our ancestors will light our way through an uncertain future.

We join with all those who honor the Creator, and to all who work and pray for our children, for world peace, and for the healing of our Mother Earth.

For all our relations.

In these videos, I interviewed Aggie about what she ate when she was growing up. She talks about fishing for eel and salmon on the Klamath. She talks about running a smoke house and the huge apple orchards around her home and how her mother used to break wild horses.

Aggie talks to a group at the Willamette Valley Indian Cultural-Ecological Restoration Workshop this week

She talks about a biofuel concoction her grandson made to run the lawnmower....

"He's not a rocket scientist, if he can do those things, why can't our government?"

She talked about her fear about gas and food prices:

"I'm concerned about elders living out remotely, with the price of gas and the price of food, we're going to have more and more elders dying, I can feel that."

She reminds us all to SAVE OUR SEEDS!

"I've been prophesing for many year, telling people that they need to save their seeds. Seeds are very crucial."
And she give us a call to action!

"All of us are in this leaky canoe together, whatever you can do with your knowledge that you have, put it to good use!"

"We are the wisdom keepers.." She says of the elders. Along with the other 12 indigenous grandmothers, she says they have 1,000 years of wisdom.

Red fleshy receptacles

Strawberries are on in the Willamette Valley!! A friend of mine recently informed me that strawberries are NOT fruits, but fleshy enlarged receptacles of fruit. The fruit is actually- scientifically, the seeds, or seedlike fruitlets.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Midwestern Flooding Will Hike Commodity Prices

This was some of last summer's crop at a farmer's market along a country road in Illinios. This summer's crop will be much diminished because of flooding all over the Midwest.

Flooding in the Midwest- food and gas is gonna get even MORE expensive

Looks like recent flooding in the midwest has ruined 5 million acres of cropland.
Iowa and Illinois produce the bulk of U.S. corn and soybeans (about 1/3).

What does this mean? Prices of livestock feed will go through the roof, price of gas- through the roof (as if it weren't already- since some of this cropland was grown for biofuel) and the price of soybeans and corn will soar! eeek!!

Check out my trip to Illinios and the making of Midwestern huckleberry pie HERE.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Are your hands clean . . of tainted chocolate?

Are you supporting child slavery by buying the wrong kind of chocolate? Pay attention!!
Today (June 12th) is World Day Against Child Labor!

ON THE SAFE SIDE, TRY AMANO CHOCOLATES out of Orem, Utah, a small artisan operation where owner Art Pollard travels to the plantations himself.

Yesterday I was at the Cooperative to buy some of my favorite bulk chocolate and noticed it was no longer available. Why, I asked Gabe, who is in charge of the bulk food who said the Co-op is discontinuing any chocolate that may have been made from chocolate that has been "pooled" which he explained later in a response to this post, is "chocolate from everywhere all dumped into one vat." They are doing this to avoid any product that they cannot confirm is made without slave labor. He says they are not requiring that all chocolate is Certified Fair Trade that's not certified fair trade.

Americans spend 13 billion on chocolate a year. Much of that is commodity chocolate and a percentage of that is from plantations like many on the Ivory coast that use child labor.

Chocolate and Slave Labor on the Ivory Coast- check out this video:

"The best chocolate in the world... produced by illiterate 10-year old boys."

"A sound economy can't be built on the back of a child" BBC World TV series.

Most of the 300,000 school aged kids work in dangerous conditions in Africa's cocoa fields.

In riveting detail, the series profiled young boys who were tricked into slavery, or sold as slaves, to Ivory Coast cocoa farmers. Ivory Coast, located on the southern coast of West Africa, is by far the world's largest supplier of cocoa beans, providing 43% of the world's supply. There are 600,000 cocoa farms in Ivory Coast which together account for one-third of the nation's entire economy.

An investigative report by the British Broadcasting Company (BBC) in 2000 indicated
the size of the problem. According to the BBC, hundreds of thousands of children are being purchased from their parents for a pittance, or in some cases outright stolen, and then shipped to the Ivory Coast, where they are sold as slaves to cocoa farms. These children typically come from countries such as Mali, Burkina Faso, and Togo. Destitute parents in these poverty-stricken lands sell their children to traffickers believing that they will find honest work once they arrive in Ivory Coast and then send some of their earnings home. But that's not what happens. These children, usually 12-to-14-years-old but sometimes younger, are forced to do hard manual labor 80 to 100 hours a week. They are paid nothing, are barely fed, are beaten regularly, and are often viciously beaten if they try to escape. Most will never see their families again.

Most organic cocoa beans are coming from Ivory Coast, so organic chocolate is unlikely to be tainted by slavery. Newman's Own Organics is one of the largest of the slavery-free companies. The company's chocolate is purchased through the Organic Commodity Project in Cambridge, Massachusetts. It comes from Costa Rica where the farms are closely monitored.

These companies include Clif Bar, Cloud Nine, Dagoba Organic Chocolate, Denman Island Chocolate, Gardners Candies, Green and Black's, Kailua Candy Company, Koppers Chocolate, L.A. Burdick Chocolates, Montezuma's Chocolates, Newman's Own Organics, Omanhene Cocoa Bean Company, Rapunzel Pure Organics, and The Endangered Species Chocolate Company.

Chocolate's Bittersweet Economy

Monday, June 09, 2008

Bare cupboard recipes

Here's a recipe when you don't have much in your cupboard... but maybe beans :)

1 1/2 medium heads garlic, cloves separated and peeled
2 cups cold water
2 teaspoons salt
3 orange bell peppers
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1/2 lb baby spinach
10 oz campanelli (bellflower) pasta or penne
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 (19-oz) can white beans, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup finely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano (2/3 oz)

Reserve 6 large garlic cloves. Put remaining cloves in 2 cups cold water, then simmer in a small saucepan, covered, until garlic is very soft, about 30 minutes. Reserve 1/2 cup garlic cooking liquid, then drain garlic in a sieve.
Purée cooked garlic with reserved cooking liquid and 1 teaspoon salt in a blender until smooth.

While garlic simmers, roast peppers on racks of gas burners over high heat, turning with tongs, until skins are blackened, 10 to 12 minutes (or broil peppers on a broiler pan about 5 inches from heat, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes). Transfer to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap, then let stand 20 minutes. Peel peppers, discarding stems and seeds, and cut into 3/4-inch pieces.

Mince 2 reserved garlic cloves with thyme and remaining teaspoon salt using a large knife. Transfer along with spinach to a large serving bowl.

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until al dente.

Make sauce while pasta is cooking:
Finely chop remaining 4 garlic cloves and cook in oil in a 12-inch nonstick skillet over moderate heat, stirring, until pale golden, 3 to 5 minutes. Add peppers and cook, stirring, 3 minutes. Add beans and garlic purée to skillet and bring to a simmer over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper.

Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain pasta. Add pasta, sauce, vinegar, and cheese to spinach and garlic in serving bowl and toss to combine. (Add some of reserved cooking water if mixture is dry.) Serve immediately.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Want this haunted sofa?

I saw this ad on craigslist for a haunted sofa, check it out!

Thursday, June 05, 2008


Ethanol, isn't it's use supposed to lower gas prices? Huh??

Help me out someone, what am I missing here. I just noticed this Shell gas station uses 10 percent ethanol, but the gas prices are exactly the same as they are at other places. Will ethanol ever translate to a cost savings for the consumer??

Check out my gripes about ethanol in a former post

10 Percent Ethanol

Price of Gas at the SHELL

Milk Allergy and want to eat Ice Cream??

Try this, made in Eugene with Coconut Milk. YUMMY!

Coconut Bliss Ice Cream

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

This had nothing to do with food, but I thought it was brilliant

It's a one minute TV ad for the Zürich Chamber Orchestra, from the agency Euro RSCG Zürich.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

HIP PIT STOPS in Newport, Oregon

My friend Jen and her dog Salie in historic downtown of Newport

Sea lions played in the water right in the bay.

Across the street from Local Oceans restaurant.

Local Oceans

Local Oceans

If you're planning a trip to the Oregon coast, put this place on your itinerary. It's a sophisticated, metropolitan-style eatery with an open kitchen that sources lots of local food and serves things up in an artsy way that's delicious and nothing like the greasy fish-and-chips stops you'd expect to find in a coastal fishing town.

It's a market where you can choose your own fish and live crab too.

They serve things like clam and mussles stewed in white wine, saffron, tomatoes and homemade chorizo and fresh seasonal tuna wrapped in bacon (Tuna Mignon), delicious panko-crusted pan-fried oysters (which I LOVE.) They serve lots of yummy soups like creamy roasted garlic and fresh-caught Dungeness crab soup. They also put care into the veggie dishes and salads and use local ingredients like morrells, chantrells and other mushrooms sourced from a local forager (who also supplies greens like fiddlehead ferns, wild lettuce and beach pea tendrils.) The place is also know for their unusual ice creams made fresh every morning with local farm duck eggs- all in tastes like pineapple jalapeno or even fried oyster or crab.

All the seafood is labeled, telling diners the names of the boats that pulled in the seafood—and from which bay.

They pull as much seafood as possible from Yaquina Bay across the street: clams, fresh ling cod (for the fish and chips) black cod, fresh oysters, mussles and of course dungenous crab. And they get other seafood from the northwest like Winchester Bay oysters.

Currently the boats in the bay across the street head up to Cape Falcon to get their salmon which is alloted amount. When the salmon season is over and because it's so limited this year (there's no commercial fishing for salmon) they served it up on a limited basis.

Here's a hamburger made with local beef and topped with gorgonzola cheese from local Rogue River creamery.


Salmon Fishing Ban on Oregon Coast
Why you'll be paying a PREMIUM for wild salmon

When I was in Newport a few weeks ago, I talked with a commercial fisherman who said there hasn't been much commercial fishing lately. In fact, last month, West Coast fisheries managers have voted to ban salmon fishing off the Oregon and Cali coast this year. The Sacramento Chinook Salmon run (which traditionally has been one of the most vibrant runs) has collapsed.

Scientists predict this year's salmon season to be one of the worst in history.

Only about 90,000 adult Chinook returned to the Central Valley last fall - the second lowest number on record and well below the number needed to maintain a healthy fishery. That number is projected to fall to a record low of 58,000 this year. By contrast, 775,000 adults were counted in the Sacramento River and its tributaries as recently as 2002.

Just yesterday I read an article about one possible reason for the decline in salmon returning to the area.

Sewage not good for Salmon- Duh!

A newspaper article yesterday cited a new study theorizing that an overabundance of ammonia in sewage waste water that's pumped into the San Joaquin near Sacramento may be what's to blame for the decline in fish species and interruption in the Chinook salmon's spawning cycle.

Of course the sewage is treated, but it looks like the ammonia levels in the sewage are not monitored like they should be since the area around Sacramento has just grown like crazy, people moving in, people pooping, poop being flushed into the river without the ammonia levels being moderated. Well, the levels of waste water have doubled since 1985.

Little fish eat zoo plankton which eat phytoplankton. If there's too much ammonia in the water due to sewage, phytoplankton can't feed on nitrates. So the people in Sacramento and surrounding areas are gonna have to start looking at paying a higher fee to support a ammonia-monitoring waste water treatment process.

Migrating fall-run Chinook salmon can hit a stretch of the San Joaquin River in Central California with oxygen levels so low, the fish are forced to either wait around until conditions improve or to go elsewhere to spawn, thereby negatively affecting their spawning success. Algae consume much of the oxygen and according to a recently published U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) report, animal wastes or sewage were a major source of nutrients for the algae growth.