Friday, April 22, 2011

"Don't worry, be happy"

Simple, but sage advice.  Thank you Bob Marley for putting it so bluntly.  I need less worry and more happy; I think we all do.
Happy Earth Day!!

I don't know if is something to do with it being spring, or so close to the end of the semester, but I cannot stop thinking about what else I could be doing, how else I could be spending my time.  I am the kind of person who doesn't want to miss out on anything, much the same way little kids don't want to go to bed for fear that something terribly exciting will happen and they will miss out on it.  What follows has only enhanced these feelings.  Words simply cannot express who utterly disappointed I was/have been/am at finding out that I will not be able to graduate in December.  I have to wait until next April before I can don the robes and slip my tassel from the left to the right (or is from the right to the left?).  Its been really hard to stay positive in that regard.  It is obviously no one's fault but my own.  I am working on consoling myself with my trip to Hungary in June.  I need it!  I love new and exciting things, so a break from the consistency of classes will be much appreciated.  I cannot wait to eat and drink everything!!  And hopefully I will have a camera by then so that I can photo-document everything to go with the plethora of stories I promise to bring back.  Lucky for me, stories (and the miming that usually accompanies them) don't take up any space in my one carry-on bag and they are one size fits all.

I did not make a New Years resolution;  don't usually.  I find it kind of kitschy and something people too often make and too often do a crap job with the follow-up--myself included.  I am thinking of making an "Earth-Day" resolution.  The fact that it is an "Earth Day" resolution coincides partly with the fact that it happens to be Earth Day, but also with the fact that if I don't love myself, why should anyone else?  If I want to be a better person then I have to focus on myself first.  I am going to try putting my thoughts down on paper more.  It is a way for me to collect all of the bits and pieces of thoughts floating around in the miasma of my mind and coagulate them into something decipherable.  I am generally a positive person, but sometimes I hide behind the positive attitude so as to avoid something that I should actually be paying attention to.  If the point of anthropology (my major in this ever-continuing journey called school) is to observe, interpret and learn about others, why couldn't I do that with myself?

Saturday, March 19, 2011


Spring is here!  At least where I am...  And what comes with spring but dandelions (Taraxacum officinale)!  Often considered the bane of homeowners everywhere.  I feel the opposite,  I find them to be cheery with their bright yellow flowers.  I also like a wilder looking lawn, rather than perfectly maintained, it is better for the environment, the water supply, and it takes up less of my time.  Aside from adding colour to the lawn, dandelions have several health benefits.  All parts of the flower are edible.  The flowers can be battered and fried into fritters:
Gather approximately thirty or so dandelion flowers from a pesticide-free location (the side of the road or your neighbours abnormally green lawn are not ideal).  Rinse them and pat dry.  

Next, mix together about 1 1/4 c each of organic cornmeal and organic milk (can substitute almond milk or soy for a vegan option) and one beaten egg (or 1T *(T= tablespoon) flax seed oil beaten with a T or two of warm water for vegans) to make a batter.  Add a pinch of sea salt and give it a stir.  

Add enough oil (I like olive oil) to a pan to pool in the bottom of a pan on medium-high heat.  Holding your dandelion flowers by the green stem-bit, dip them gently in the batter and place flower side down in the hot oil.  

Cook until a spatula slides easily underneath and then flip the blossom over.  It should look golden brown, not too dark.  Fry until the other side is also golden brown.  Once finished, remove and place on a lint-free towel (like a flour-sack towel) to drain a little.  Enjoy while still warm!


The leaves of the dandelion are also edible and are reminiscent of spinach or similar.  Collect young leaves--springtime is usually the best time because they are more tender and have not toughened up or as bitter.  You can eat them raw in salads and the like, or blanch them:
Rinse the leaves well with several rinses of cold water.  Remove any discoloured leaves or leaves that look unhealthy.  
Set a pot of water to boil and toss in a t *(t=teaspoon) of salt.  Toss in the leaves once the water is boiling and let them boil for a couple of minutes.  Removed to a colander to drain well.  You can either use them immediately, or pat dry and freeze for later.

The roots can be used to make a coffee substitute/a tea.  Dandelion root tea is good for monthly lady complaints if drunk during the week before menstruation.  (These statements have not been approved by the FDA, blah blah blah).

Collect roots in spring time.  I used a trowel sunk into the ground, gently loosening the earth on all sides and then using it to leaver it out of the ground.  Dandelion roots run deep, by loosening the earth on all sides you lessen your chances of breaking the root.  (You can purchase dandelion root digging tools, but I already have a trowel, so why buy something else?) 
Rinse the roots well, I like to use a medium-strength dish brush.  Let them dry for a half-hour. 
Cut them into half-inch/ inch chunks and place on a baking pan.  Roast them in a 350 degree F oven for a couple hours, checking and turning if necessary.  
Don't let them burn, but they should by pretty dry when they are done and will smell roasted and earthy.  
To enjoy as a tea, place a teaspoon of the dried root in a tea strainer and over with 8-10 oz of fresh boiled water.  Let steep covered for 10 minutes.  If you desire it sweeter, you can add some honey, yum!

Friday, March 4, 2011

My guest blog!

I had the opportunity to guest-blog on Cultural Exposure, run by Rainbow Sprinkles, who happens to be one of my favourite people!  Her blog is filled with baking endeavours, both of the serious and novelty variety. 
Me, playing German at Ren Fest
This lovely lady is full of surprises, including the one she made for me!  Because I go to school in another city and spend my weekends working at the Bay Area Renaissance Festival,  I will mostly likely not get to go home for my birthday, so Rainbow took it upon herself to make me a (soon-to-be blogged) pink zebra-striped cake!!!! 

And I regret to say that the only picture I have is trapped on my cellphone :( .  I will post pictures as soon as I can get my hands on them.

Friday, January 28, 2011


I am back!  After undergoing a series of life changes, I fear I will have to give up the plans for my spring garden :(  But I will now, even more than before, have to get better at feeding myself on a budget.  My financial aid money for school has not yet come in and I am getting dangerously low on petty cash.  But not to worry!  I have  flour, cornmeal, a jar of tomato sauce, an assortment of dried legumes and spices.  My goal is to impede on my new roommates as little as possible, grocery wise.  Because I don't mind eating the same thing a few nights in a row, and I know how to dress up leftovers, I am optimistic.

For the last couple of nights, I have eaten polenta.  Polenta is a peasant food from Italy.  It is creamy and takes flavourings very well--making is delicious.  It is also made from cornmeal so it is cheap to make.  Traditional polenta can be a long process, but it doesn't have to be.  Here is how I make mine:

One part cornmeal to three parts water (for example, 1/3 c cornmeal to 1c water)
butter or olive oil

Put water and a teaspoon of salt in a pot and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, sprinkle corn meal in and stir to prevent lumps.  Continue until all of the cornmeal is incorporated.  It will thicken up amazingly; turn down your heat to low.  Keep stirring for a few minutes to prevent it from forming lumps.  Add a lid and let sit, stirring every few minutes for up to twenty minutes.  Add more water if it gets too thick and starts sticking.  Remove from heat and it has reached the desire creamy constistancy.  When it is no longer gritty it can be eaten, but it is better if it cooks a bit longer.  You can eat it in its current creamy, delicious state, or you can spread it on a baking pan and let cool, cut into squares, brush with butter or olive oil, and broil for a few minutes.  I like to eat mine right off of the stove with tomato sauce.