Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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If we were having coffee this morning I would serve you any hot or iced tea you might like or a cup of medium roast coffee. For those of you arriving at cocktail hour from other continents I have some cranberry vodka for cocktails. It is pretty and tasty at the same time. Have a seat, put up your feet on the fireside ottoman and tell me what is happening with you. I have the room seriously scented with lavender and citrus essential oils. The wood stove is a perfect diffuser. I need to replenish the moisture it sucks out of the air, so I position two containers of water on top to continually evaporate. It is a little bit shocking to see how much goes into the air. I dump substantial amounts of essential oils in those vessels, which become my giant air fresheners all winter.
Citrus is the scent of the season for me. I have purchased a full set of citrus essential oils for December which are going quickly because I love using them liberally. Now I am rocking sweet orange and mandarin, mixed with a lot of lavender. These are all high notes in aromatherapy, or uppers if you will. The idea is to extend comfort and joy in the atmosphere. I have my ceramic gingerbread diffuser rocking the scent with a scented candle as the heat. This is the only time of year when I burn wax candles in my house because it does pollute the air inside that we breathe. I am not worried about the amount of pollution a few tiny tea lights will emit. I also have my digital candles with remote control LED lights that change color. They make me very happy. My decorating theme is not exactly geared to a modern religious holiday but to the winter solstice, and a celebration of light that seemed to happen universally in ancient times around the darkest night of the year. I am fully ready of Old Man Winter. We are stocked with wood for the fire and I have mounted all manner of solar twinkle lights in the front and back yard. We are warm and, if I do say so myself, lit.
If we were having coffee and American politics came up I would tell you that yesterday I attended a meeting to organize a satellite protest march to show support for the Million Women March on Washington, 21 Jan. Many American women are traveling to DC to march on the mall to protest the inauguration of the Donald. I have much sympathy for this movement, but not enough to travel to DC. I decided to find out what the Tucson group looked like, and what they planned to do. I live streamed the event to my FaceBook page. The meeting was at once very uplifting and disconcerting. The median age of the women in attendance was around 55 or 60, with very few under 40, and I saw nobody under 30. They debated the language of protest and how to best express the outrage they felt. They talked about Gandhi and Martin Luther King, which was predictable. There were 3 men over 60 in the crowd. One with his wife, one with Occupy Tucson, to convince the group to join their march, and one who had very good sense who came out of nowhere. He suggested the group use positive rather than negative language. A lot of women wanted to show off and talk about their previous political involvement and how they knew Trump supporters who were poor and underserved who needed to be converted. When I asked them if they knew how hashtags work I was told they planned to find high school girls who would instagram and hashtag the whole thing for them. These old ladies have missed the point. They can march until the world looks level and will have little sway on national politics. They need to learn how to lobby, how to hashtag, how to trend, and how to relate to the youth. The times they have been are a changin’ and they need to acknowledge that the problem here is not HOW Americans voted, but that half of Americans did not vote at all. I am in favor of their march and movement, but the medium is the message. The most efficient and effective mediums must be exploited along with the labor intensive.
If you were relaxing by the fire today I would now end my observations of politics and society in general and find out what you have been doing. I have a killer nutloaf of spinach and almond with a nice parsley sauce. Let me heat up a slice and serve it to you while you enjoy the fire. I have almost used up all the nuts from last year, but am still pitching the nuts to guests because they are so healthy and tasty. Thanks for stopping in today. You are welcome to take a nap by the stove after your snack, especially if you have a long trip home. Alexa is loaded with Amazon unlimited music, so please ask her to play your favorite music. Just say her name and tell her what you want.
Ending the year with this sophisticated group of digital coffee drinkers is a pleasure. I appreciate knowing you, sharing with you, and learning about your writing journeys. Thanks to Diana for keeping the party going from New Orleans even week. Drop in and comment, post, or just enjoy the coffee. Cheers!
If we were having coffee I would invite you to sit down and tell me about your week over your favorite beverage. I am loaded with chai, roiboos, green, white, and herbal teas. For me, this season is perfect for jasmine roiboos. It is floral with a full rich flavor of harvest. Jasmine makes me swoon. Today is the full moon known as the hunter’s moon. There will be a lunar eclipse. With all that drama in the heavens I am sure some stories will be brewing down here on earth. What is happening in your world?
The story we all want to bring to an end is the election. The population is weary. We can’t take much more of this bickering. People are short-tempered about everything now. Any social discourse can end in controversy for no reason. I spent most of my time this week at home to try to avoid the total breakdown of society. Of course, this tactic was futile. I did write a few short poems, trying to get in the swing of a more productive practice as a poet. I am hoping to ease into a poem a day for life without setting a firm discipline…wondering if that will work. I bid adieu to my Audible account without regret, after my free three-month trial. Alexa is still able to read any book in my kindle library for which I purchase the audio component. Amazon has also launched a new free trial which I snapped up right away. Prime members can now pay 7.99 a month for access to the entire catalog of music in the Amazon system. This is very similar to the Apple music deal I took last year. I will not keep this one after my free month either. For the time being I am having Alexa play Bob Dylan songs. She can play his songs all day and never repeat herself. I am thrilled to fill my home with the works of our new Nobel Prize winner, Bob. In my youth I memorized all his songs and could play them on the guitar. He was an idol. He is inspiring me now to practice being a poet. His early songs are so funny and brilliant. Many fit perfectly with this election too. I am so glad he was not a lazy poet like I am.
The healthy trend continues in the kitchen. We had a tasty walnut spinach nut loaf this week, and I found a recipe for nut crisp crackers I believe will be the bomb. The only ingredients are ground up nuts of your choice and egg white. I look forward to rolling some out next week because I think they will replicate those nut crisp commercial crackers I love. I also discovered that the pesto shortbread dough makes a fine topping for savory cobbler dishes. I think the nut crackers could go either sweet or savory as a crust on the top to add crunching excitement. I am planning very nutty meals until all the old nuts have been consumed. I will let you know what I learn about preparing and eating nuts. We will learn everything there is to know about nuts on November 9. I wish everyone forbearance and wisdom.
To join the international coffee party this weekend click here. Read, write, opine with a group of congenial writers of all kinds.
If we were having coffee this week I would invite you to the nut bar to find the right mix to pair with your tea or coffee. The nut bar is a nod to both #OctoberUnprocessed, which I find easy to do, and to the tidy guru, whose advise I am finding very difficult to follow. I purchased more fall festive flavors of white tea and chai partly because my tea company offered a free tiny bottle of honey with an order over a certain amount. I was a sucker for the honey, and have yet to impose any kind of tidy rules on my tea cupboard. It makes me very happy, and when a swing the lazy susan cabinet that houses it closed it adds no visual clutter to my kitchen.
In my journey to minimalism and clean eating I have created an alternative to processed crackers this week that is far superior to the store bought version. I made pesto shortbread to die for. I still have some in the fridge ready to slice and bake. It has the flavor of homemade pesto I already had on hand and utilizes some of the pine nuts I also have in stock. My tidy muse reminded me that all of the nuts in my fridge are from last year. The few pecans I still have in the shell have been waiting for way to long to be cracked open and eaten. She (tidy muse) is absolutely right about consuming the old food to make room for the new crop which is soon to arrive on the market. In the spirit of tidy AND unprocessed I have started eating a daily deconstructed dessert. It started with apples and honey for Jewish new year. It is so pleasant and satisfying that I have followed with sliced apples or pears with cheeses and with nuts. I have been enjoying this sweet indulgence by purchasing different honey and apple varieties to combine. The honey from the tea company is cinnamon flavored, which is delightful with both the nuts and the apples. I have pecans, pine nuts, walnuts, hazel nuts, and pistachios all on special for my tasting pleasure. During your weekend beverage visit please help yourself to these seasonal delights. The tidy muse will be so pleased when all the nuts are gone.
I am inspired by the many ambitious writers who frequent this coffee share. Some of you are very prolific while you continue full lives in other realms. I have been thinking about writing more poetry, since I do really love it. Like tidying, I have to struggle against some lazy lady lurking in the shadows who does not want to make the effort to write poetry. I was set up to attend a poetry reading on Thursday, meant to get my poetry mojo working. I slept through it, as I did the vice presidential debate the previous night. I am extremely early to bed and early to rise, as well as a very sound sleeper. I count myself as lucky to be able to easily sleep and dream, so I am not too harsh on myself when I snooze through anything. I can always catch up on world events on twitter when I awaken.
Politics in the United States are heating up in all the most bizarre ways. The tidy lady needs to school the politicians about hoarding old nuts. There are now scary clowns in the woods as well as in government. We are on a strange collision course with destiny. There is absolutely no telling what will happen.
Catch up with writers who share coffee on the weekend here. Sit down, enjoy, share whatever is on your mind. Have a Nut! They are on special this week.
I had a fire in the wood stove last night, officially welcoming the winter to our house. This week we welcomed the nutcracker and some mixed nuts to the kitchen. I am not sure why I feel so much satisfaction in nut cracking, but I do. It slows down the process and makes me appreciate the taste of my nutty prize when I manage to crack the shell and extract it. This time of year we start to eat nuts more often because they are featured in seasonal fall dishes as part of a healthy harvest. Arizona grows wonderful pecans and pistachios, two of my favorite crops. Both are healthy and add rich flavor to all kinds of dishes.
We are big fans of cheese and pear combinations, so this month I will make us a pear pecan roquefort cheesecake. That has to be a winner with those ingredients. Brussels sprouts have arrived on the stalk as a favorite vegetable, so we will try the pistachio cranberry sprouts as a savory treat as well. Nuts always make appearances in cookies and sweets, but this year I want to try the extravagant pumpkin pecan cobbler. This will be right up our alley for dessert, and a new way to use both November favorites, pumpkin and pecans.
This weekend we have a neighborhood potluck party. I plan to take some soup, but this pineapple cream cheese spread covered with pecans is so cute I think I will make one of those for the party too. It is simple, but looks really festive.
Trader Joe’s brings out small cans of exotic nut oils this time of year which I enjoy using to add rich flavor to all kinds of dishes. Using walnut or pistachio oils for roasting vegetables delivers fabulous punch. Gravy based in nut oil is lovely and mysteriously rich. I still like butter, but like to variations that nut oils can bring to the fall table. Evidence keeps piling in about the benefits of including nuts in the diet. While I do believe the research I am nuts for nuts because they taste so great. Do you have a favorite nut, gentle reader?
Pecans grow abundantly in Arizona, with large commercial groves to be found both north and south of the city of Tucson. Green Valley Pecan Company is the largest pecan farm in the world. I love the organic pecans from our neighbors just 20 minutes south of Tucson. They sponsor the Sahuarita Pecan Festival to celebrate the harvest and get festive with the local population. This year the festival will take place Nov. 8, 2014 from 9 am to 5 pm at the farm. Parking is free until 8:30 am, and $5 per car after that time. I adore food festivals. I am a bigger fan of nuts than I am of wine, so this local festival is particularly appealing to me. I am not waiting to start eating my organic Green Valley pecans. I have already polished off half of the first bag I purchased eating them straight up. That is honestly my favorite way to have them. I do cook with them, and when I was in Austin this summer I heard about a pecan syrup being used in bourbon cocktails that intrigued me. My friend made a wonderful concoction of bitters by using a whole pecan in the shell as one of the local ingredients she was testing. The flavor of the nut came out nicely in the final product, the shell lending some bitter notes. My mother used to shell loads of pecans each year and give them to me as a holiday gift. It was the best thing she gave me, and she kept doing it until she was very old. She would spend a month or so shelling pecans in the fall for her holiday gifting. She was from Texas, so I imagine this came from her childhood. She made a decent pecan pie, but my mother, Ruby, specialized in pralines. She made no other kind of candy, and it only happened once a year (for the holiday gifts). She put pecans in her fruitcakes too, but then she ruined them with fruitcake (I was never a fan of this extremely labor intensive preparation).
Here are some savory examples of pecans for fall festivities:
Most of the classic pecan recipes are for sweets:
If you have made the ice cream you can them have a:
What is your favorite way to enjoy pecans, Gentle Reader?