Friday, August 24, 2012

To fix things, or not

I spend a lot of time thinking about how connected everyone is these days.  Not necessarily to each other, but to devices of communication.  Even in my own home, there are times when several people are "together", but some of them will be engaged in a conversation of texts or emails while attempting to be present.
The thing that has really made me think about it a lot lately is the fact that a storm knocked out the answering machine on my phone a couple of months ago.  I don't use a cell phone unless traveling, so at least when outside I am free.
At first, I mentally planned how to fix it and it would seriously take about 3 minutes of wire wrangling, yet it hasn't happened yet.  "Oh no!" I thought, "How will people leave a message?"  And still I don't fix it.
I get a little guff now and then for not having a telephone number on the web site.  We're 11 years in, and email has worked out pretty well so far.  The typical business-like reasons are that I am not available during regular hours, not willing to handle phone calls at all hours, and at one time there was a teenager with an unpredictable attitude.  Perhaps anymore, the fact is that I just can't think on my feet anymore.  I'm USED to being able to give responses some thought, look on the calendar, check back on prior communications, or whatever it might take to sound like the system here (and my mind) is intact.
Throughout my childhood, well into adolescence, my mother was bound to the front portion of our home 24/7.  Extensions from over 40 businesses rang on a switchboard, and she took messages for all of them.  She tracked down doctors, got emergency fuel deliveries taken care of, and pretty much juggled the problems of 100's of people a day.  She rarely ventured outside, even after an outdoor ringer was installed.  It wasn't worth the hassle.  I started helping out with the phones at the age of nine.  Really.  Later, after that was sold and she went to work for someone else, at 14 I went to work on a bigger answering service with over 200 businesses, a few police departments, an alarm company, a Western Union office, and the first FAX line in the county.  2 people worked at a time, and it was ... um... fun.  Afterwards I went on to be a police dispatcher with the county, where I learned the true meaning of the word emergency, and also how very many of them occur during an 8 hour shift.
So over the course of the last couple of months, I've realized the reason for my resistance to doing anything about the fried message machine.  It is so much easier.  There are probably fewer people who remember than those who don't, but there was a time when you could be alone.  At one time, if the phone rang and nobody answered, that was that.  No messages.  No guilt about getting back to anyone.  The caller could try later, or go ahead and live their life, perhaps checking in the next day.  You could go on a hike and never talk to anyone except the person physically walking beside you, or maybe your dog. 
Now that I've gotten that out of my system, I'll probably fix the phone in a few days.  But always, I'm easier to reach by email :-)

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mid-Autumn Fruit Splurge

This year, the fig tree has grown large enough to be supplying me with a bounty that is finally pushing me to try different things with them, rather than simply plucking them off the tree and eating them while standing in the yard.  They are full of so many good things.  Fiber, potassium, vitamin K, calcium and iron, for starters. 
Earlier this year, I found a recipe for Vanilla Fig Bars and waited patiently.  I made it the other night and it was very good (I added a touch of honey from my friend Zan's bees).  The only thing is, I can never just leave a recipe alone.  Eating one of those bars, I kept thinking how good that chock-full of health cookie base of almonds, coconut and figs would be used as a crust for a tart of some sort.
And so today, in order to step away from some of the less than savory bits of news coming across the computer, it became a reality.  No eggs, dairy, or grains used.  No baking.  Just perfection.

The recipe for the fruit topping was just a conglomeration of what happens to be on my counter at the moment:
1 cup of fresh ripe elderberries
1 cup sweet ripe figs
1 large juicy peach
about a tablespoon of grated ginger
3 tablespoons of rich, dark honey
1/4 cup sugar
These were all set to simmer until it became a luscious, bubbling, fragrant mass - about 15 minutes .

In the meantime, I put together the crust.  Using fresh figs with the coconut and almond makes the whole thing turn out looking just a little bit more like ham salad than I'd like, but that fades a bit as it sets up.  It holds together exceptionally well.



At the very last minute, I added about 1/4 cup of coconut flour to the fruit mixture, just to help it thicken.  It was taken off the heat for 10 minutes, and then spread over the crust.  It is wonderful!  Absolutely delicious, and while it is nowhere near low-calorie, it is full of things that are good for us.

I suspect my daughter will top it off with a dollop of yogurt with a smidge of honey.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Essential Herbal Sept/Oct '12

 We've been a little absent on the blog lately, but it isn't for lack of activity!  All kinds of busy here on the farm, with harvesting, preserving, maintaining, and of course the magazine and soap businesses keeping us stepping.
The Sept/Oct '12 issue is headed out to subscribers now, and should be arriving in the next 2 weeks.  If you'd like to join in the fun, subscribe!  We've got plenty.  Not sure?  Click on the free issue along the right sidebar of this blog and check it out without risk. 
Here's what you'll find in the current issue:
Field Notes
During childhood, we establish our relationship with nature. Are we still playing and sharing that with the kids in our lives?
Herbal Connections, Winter Herbs, Marita A Orr
Getting our herbs lined up for the winter ahead, Marita shares her favorites and methods for use.
Grooming & Pruning Herb Plants, Michele Brown
The Herbfarmer gives advice for keeping our herbs in good shape to face the weather ahead so that they’ll be ready to spring into action as soon as the warmth and light return.
Seasonal Support, Suzan T Scholl
Lots of great herbs to have on hand, and now is the time to gather them.
From the Vault, Secrets of the Scented Bead, Carol Huettner
You may be very surprised to learn how myrrh beads and aromatic amber resin are created. It probably isn’t anything like what you expected.
Medicinal Vinegar Tinctures, Marci Lautanen-Raleigh
Alcohol-free medicinal herbal extracts in a base that is good for you? Read on!
SouthRidge Treasures, Pesto, Mary Ellen Wilcox
Look out basil, Mary Ellen is taking pesto far beyond the usual.
Mullein the Great, Marci Tsohonis
This common roadside weed has so much to offer. Like so many plants that we pass daily, it is worth a much closer look.
Autumn Magic, Heddy Johannsen
Welcome the season by celebrating the offerings of nature in the kitchen. Cider making without a press? Hmmm…
Oatmeal—Food as Medicine, TEH Compilation
We know about oatstraw and milky oatseeds as herbal preparations, but sometimes forget that it can be much simpler and we can incorporate the same benefits in delicious every day dishes.
How to Dehydrate Lemons, Delores Harris
Dehydrated citrus can be utilized in many ways over the holidays. Great instructions for excellent results.
Pumpkin, TEH Compilation
Is it the pumpkin, the spice combination, the delicious health benefits of deep orange foods, or the seasonal connection? All of the above? We love pumpkin in just about everything.
Take Three Weeds, Sharon Wolfe Topsick
Teachings from an elder.
What is an Herbalist, Jackie Johnson, ND
Do you ever wonder about this title and what it means?
Herban Legends, Rita Richardson
Old wives’ tales? Maybe, maybe not, but interesting either way.
 
We're sure you're going to love this issue as much as we do.

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