Crab Apple Sauce is Fabulous!

It’s very uncommon for me to do a post at night but I just made apple sauce and cookies and wanted to share ­čÖé

As I mentioned a week ago, I finally picked the crab apples in my front yard. Most of them have been in my fridge since then. I didn’t want them going to waste so I made apple sauce earlier. Or started the process anyway by cooking the chopped up apples with some water. Doesn’t look so good though! Blending┬áthe cooked, cooled apples helped with that. I always leave the skins on and never use my food mill anymore. A high powered blender obliterates everything into wonderful, silky smoothness.016

I also made cookies in the last hour. Pumpkin currant, very easy and very good. In my vegan opinion.

My sister and her husband have been out of town for 2 weeks and they arrive home tomorrow. I’m picking them up and offered to cook dinner as well. The cookies will be a small treat afterwards.025

I need to get my hands on more crab apples!! I’ll manage about 20 1 cup jars but I like to give some to my brother-in-law and do use it a fair amount in baking. If I can stock my cupboard with enough to get me through to next crab apple season, I’ll be in applesauce heaven ­čÖé

I’m having some right now and I can say I’ve never really been one to just eat applesauce (how boring!) on it’s own but this is the perfect amount of tartness for me. I’m not a huge fan of sweet.

I wonder though, is it crab apple applesauce? Or crab apple sauce? Crabapple sauce?Crabapple applesauce? lol I DO overthink some times!

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Write it down!

I learned something today. When I have an idea for a post during the night while snuggled warm and cozy in bed, the thoughts for what I’d like to write are flowing smoothly and eloquently. . . . get up! Right┬áthen! Or at the very least, have an old-fashioned pen and paper handy. Because now that I’m in front of my computer, I’m having difficulty remembering exactly what I’d imagined.download (32)

I know it concerned being a recluse. . . . and that someone had called me one once. And┬áthat’s it! For the life of me, I can’t recall anything else. All I know for sure is I had more. . . and it was good ­čÖé I┬áthink, lol.

I’m going to put a pad of paper and a pen on my nightstand as soon as I publish this. And┬áthen I suppose I better drag myself (and my dogs) out into the dreary, rainy day. The sooner I’m done with work, the sooner I can get back home, my favorite place to be!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend, no matter the weather.

Late lunch . . . . early dinner

I remember┬áwhen I used to eat at fast food restaurants. Being hungry, driving home from work and having some spare money on me, it was so easy to grab a burger and fries. Pull up to a window, order, pay and have whatever I please? No one to witness my gluttony? It was WAY too easy! I’d ignore┬áthe fact that it wasn’t good for me and savor the momentary pleasure. Feeling guilty could come later. And it always did.

I’m so thankful those days are behind me!

Vegan or not, I don’t step foot in fast food joints anymore. Aside from the lack of genuinely healthy options, I’ve developed issues with┬áthe entire fast food world. In general,┬áthe ingredients are cheap. Conventionally grown produce, sprayed with harmful chemicals to resist pests and disease. Antibiotic ridden meat from animals raised on factory farms. Palm oil is everywhere and I’ve learned how devastating that industry has been in regards to deforestation and loss of wildlife, most notably the orangutans.

I won’t support that any longer. I can make whatever I want at home and be so much better off for it.

When McDonald’s, or Burger King, or any fast food place openly brags about┬áthe quality of their ingredients, how they care about their customers and urge us to eat there, all I can think about is the hypocrisy. They don’t have concern for us or the animals. Just Google factory farmed chicken (for example) and if what you discover doesn’t make you think seriously about continuing to eat at these places, then you’re choosing denial.

But for a brief moment today, I wanted to at least stop for french fries. I didn’t feel like cooking when I arrived home.

I had to. Or starve ­čÖé

I had a very late lunch or a very early dinner by eating at 3 p.m,.

What was I able to scrounge up? Vegetables of course! I have lettuce galore and decided upon salad. 012Three types of romaine, baby swiss chard, 1 huge brussel sprout leaf (you can eat them raw too!), red pepper, carrot, onion, cucumber and purple cabbage. My dressing was homemade raspberry vinegar, olive oil and fresh lemon juice. I topped it all off with a generous sprinkling of raw hemp seeds and raw black sesame seeds.

A big bowl of vegan, 3 bean chili 013and I can assure you, I’m now full and satisfied although trying to eliminate that tiny speck of mourning. For the fries I didn’t have ­čÖé Old habits sure can cling!

Knowing I nourished my body rather than sending it in the direction of poor health helps with the minute melancholy. If I desperately need dessert, I’ll have to make that as well!

Make sure you eat some veggies today!

Brussel Sprout Leaves, eat ’em and juice ’em!

This morning I was inspired to have a juice after comments made on yesterday’s post. Thanks James! Be sure to visit him at http://www.mindyourdirt.com

I began juicing shortly after my sister did last year. Or was it the year before? I’m not sure. Having such a poor memory is a nuisance at times ­čÖé But then again, there are worse things so I don’t fret over it too much. Unless I’m thinking about what it’s going to be like when I’m 80. Even now, I frequently burn my toast because I wander too far. On the odd occasion, I go outside and neglect the soup heating up on the stove. And more than once, I’ve overflowed my kitchen sink by deciding to vacuum while filling it up to wash dishes! Duh!

But anyway, I had saut├ęed brussel sprout leaves recently. My brussel sprout plants were started too late and will not produce actual sprouts. I was wondering if I could at least eat the leaves, the big, green, glorious leaves. I hate things going to waste. A quick Google revealed that brussel sprout leaves are in fact edible. Yay. I gave them a try and they’re now on my list of veggies/leafy greens to consume.

When James (thank you again) mentioned perhaps using the leaves in a juice, along with cucumber, apple, lemon and ginger, it had me almost instantly in the kitchen. I had everything on hand except for the ginger. Which is fine, ginger’s a hard one for me!

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And the verdict is. . . . .YES, you can juice brussel sprout leaves! Initially, I was only going to use one leaf as they are rather large. And then I figured, be brave and use two.

Honestly, I can’t even tell they’re in there. I’ve had juice with kale or romaine and always know. Yuck.

I’m impressed with brussel sprout leaves.

Crab apples totally worked too! Although, why wouldn’t they? They’re still apples, just smaller and kind of a pain to cut up. However, since I’m currently out of the organic gala apples I normally buy because I’m too cheap to pay $7.58 for a 3 pound bag, I tried my FREE, freshly picked crab apples. Also organic.

I’ll be having another juice tomorrow. I need to get back into the habit. As my sister always says, juicing gives you a waterfall of nutrients flowing through your body. Or something like that ­čÖé

Brussel sprout leaves and crab apple trees

Yesterday’s first attempt at cooking and eating the leaves off a brussel sprout plant was highly successful! I’m so happy to have another leafy green┬áto add to my list. I didn’t do anything complicated.

I began with saut├ęing onion and garlic, YUM.004 I probably eat onions every day. I used red palm oil and olive oil since I’m out of butter.

Then I threw in the chopped stems of the leaves. 006

And finally, the leaves themselves.

012The next time, I’ll cook them a bit longer. I wouldn’t say they were tough but they definitely weren’t soft like spinach. The taste isn’t overwhelming, or even prominent. I guess they remind me of kale or collard greens.

Not brussel sprouts ­čśŽ

Regardless, fresh from┬áthe garden and 100% organic, they’re loaded with nutrients.

015 Sprinkled with hemp seeds.

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Now, on to the crab apple tree. I know I said trees but I only have one ­čÖé When I was walking to the end of my driveway earlier to retrieve my recycling bin, I looked over at my crab apple tree. I’ve been meaning┬áto harvest the apples for a while now and since I had a handy bin, I decided to get it done.

I have about 30 pounds of crab apples! This is the most I’ve ever gotten as far as I can remember. Way too many for just crab apple jelly, which I haven’t made in a decade!

Charlotte likes them, so she’ll get “a few” and I’ll eat some as well. 020024

But what do I do with all of them? I think I might attempt apple sauce. I’m aware that crab apples are not┬áthe kind of apple to make sauce from. However, I’m going to do it! This occurred to me while I was writing and the idea is taking a firm hold. I’m also out of homemade apple sauce so it’s a perfect plan.021

EAT those brussel sprout leaves!

Autumn has always been one of my favorite seasons. However, this year, I’m saddened that the cooler weather means gardening is coming to an end. It’s a wonderful luxury to ‘pick and plate’. That’s a term I just came up with ­čÖé I’m sure it already exists though.

The other day I was looking at my brussel sprout plants. They’re really not as pathetic as the picture shows, lol. Despite010┬ábeginning them too late, they’re almost hip high and in great health. Any insect problems were early on. But (huge sigh) they won’t produce those lovely, little balls of yumminess. (I adore brussel sprouts!).

I only get to eat them when I’m fortunate enough to find organic ones in the grocery store. Tragically (lol) I haven’t had a single brussel sprout in at least a year and a half!!

I was thinking how the leaves of brussel sprout plants resemble collard greens. It would be a shame for the plants to go to waste. Could the leaves be eaten? Naturally, I Googled it.

And you can eat brussel sprout leaves! Yay!┬áI immediately went and picked some. 006They’re as big as my head and a beautiful, dark green. Even the bug hole-y leaves meet with my approval. I can’t wait to try them for lunch. I’m wondering if I could make some kind of “cabbage” roll. . . . .a new recipe is on┬áthe horizon. I can feel it ­čÖé

Before you toss or compost those brussel sprout plants, consider harvesting the leaves. It’s another way of getting those glorious, nutrient-dense greens!

Reuse, reuse, reuse

images (84)I’m not the sort of person who requires shiny, sparkly, brand new stuff. Thrift stores and garage sales are fantastic places to shop. I very much believe in the reusing aspect of the 3 R’s.

I have an old crock pot that doesn’t work anymore. . . . next year, the base will become a planter in my garden! The ceramic pot will become an indoor planter for the kalanchoe that just won’t die. Not that I’ve been trying to kill it.

I’d cut the main plant down to stubs because it was getting stupid tall and spindly. I stuck the cuttings in water to see if they’d live and they’re thriving! 036The main plant is coming back too!

But I’m getting off topic. Reusing both the pot and base means I don’t have to toss something that won’t biodegrade.

The last new purchase I made, and probably the only one this year, was a mat for outside my door that says “Wipe your paws” (I have dogs). It’s manufactured in the U.S. from recycled materials, both big pluses in my book. Had it been from China, I’d have immediately put it back down.

I love vintage items. Old or antique, it doesn’t matter what it’s called. If it was previously owned, it has a story. Probably one I’ll never know but I like wondering. Who had it first? A young wife beginning a life with her new husband? A bachelor destined┬áto always be alone? How did it get scratched or dented? Was it carelessly given away or passed down in the family? It’s massively fascinating to me.

I think this appreciation has developed from my own advancing age (HA! Okay! I’m only 45. But still). I’m sure when I was younger I viewed “old” things as junk, like many people do.

I feel differently now. I wish my brother and sister did as well! Our paternal grandmother passed away almost 11 years ago. A large portion of her belongings ended up with me. My siblings had neither the room nor the inclination to be the pack rat that I am. And they have no interest in taking anything.

My brother, who recently moved into a new home, removed the photo I’d put on his fridge. One of our dad, also no longer here, when he was 2. 025It’s sooooo cute! But no, it ended up hidden in a drawer. I just don’t understand that.

The vintage, coffee table made from reclaimed wood that I gave him as a housewarming gift. . . . he said he’ll probably give back to me. Huh?!

Yesterday, of all things to come across, while I was rummaging around, I found my grandma’s shower curtain ­čÖé There’s absolutely nothing spectacular about it. It is just a shower curtain after all! But I remember it. And it’s dark green, a color suiting my own bathroom. AND it’s made in Canada! It’s one of my favorite discoveries when I check the tag to see where something is made and it’s NOT China! Stuff from “back then” was more commonly made in Canada, before everything was out sourced.

So I washed that shower curtain (fabric of course!) and hung it in my bathroom. Weird, maybe. I don’t care. I’m giving it a new life after being in a box for over a decade, lol.

I thought I’d share a few photos of some of my most-loved pieces. I have larger ones, such as the table my computer sits on right now, the antique rice bucket holding my hand and ankle weights or the weathered trunk with my grandmother’s name and the words Steamboat Mountain barely visible on it. I didn’t take pictures of those though.

For today, I haphazardly selected various, smaller items and took quick, unprofessional snap shots.

1958 Siamese Cat TV Lamp025

A picture of my dad when he was a young boy. I found the perfect, old frame for it!006

Roller skates from when I was a kid. Metal and made in Canada!007

An orange, glass bowl of my grandmother’s.┬áI filled it with rocks ­čÖé 002

A blue, glass decanter missing it’s top.

Found in a thrift store, bought with plans to make a lamp, but still sits on a shelf.043

A 1950’s cookie┬átin. I LOVE tins and do admit to having “just a few” ­čÖé

They’re great for non-plastic storage!

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A ceramic vase once owned by my maternal grandmother. Unfortunately, she lived in a different city and most of her belongings were given to charity when she passed away.

Her house would’ve been a┬átreasure trove of vintage and antique items!009

An old, acrylic painting. An old, wood and velour (yes, velour! lol) frame and voila! A perfect pair ­čÖé In my eyes anyway.┬áI know this would be a hard sell for most people.040039

A wooden box my dad made in school  012

An old coffee tin, rusty and dented, that I use as a garbage can in my sewing room.

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An apple cider jug I use for collecting loose change.

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Another old coffee tin, much smaller, and a tin from OXO boullion cubes. No cardboard back then! A pair of vintage salt and pepper shakers.005

I have plenty of other stuff. In boxes or bins, inside and out in my shed. I KNOW I must whittle it all down. But I love it when I “find” things I’d forgotten about! I think what I should at least be doing, because I don’t have the room for it all to be on display, is rotate my favorite items. Maybe every 6 months? Or once a year? I’ll have to ponder the idea. And sell a few things. . . . . .sigh. . . . . anyone who is a pack rat will understand my difficulty ­čÖé

Do YOU know what biosolids are?

Before a couple of days ago, I don’t think I’d ever heard the word ‘biosolids’. If I had, I never paid attention. At first, it didn’t sound so bad. Biosolids, used in farming as a valuable soil conditioner. Okay. Sure.

And then I Googled it!

I thought I was fairly knowledgeable about healthy food, organic gardening, green, cleaning products and the better beauty products in general. I consider myself to be very environmentally-friendly. But the past 2+ months of research I’ve been doing has really opened my eyes.

Green washing, ecocide, cruelty-free, ethically sourced, fair-trade, responsibly sourced, sustainable. There is SO MUCH to be aware of! I’ve e-mailed over 2 ┬Ż dozen companies, asking about their palm oil, their animal testing policies, their suppliers, their ingredients and more. ‘Biosolids’ investigating is just beginning.

So far, I’ve ruled many companies off my list of ones to purchase from.

Seventh Generation, for instance, doesn’t seem to actually know what kind of palm oil they use. I was in contact with 3 different representatives and received conflicting answers. My confidence in the company was erased and I’ll bypass them in the future.

Ecover assured me their SLS and SLES are safe, although their site doesn’t address this in any way, shape or form. Nor does their labeling. I was told┬áthis is due to their desire for a sleek, minimal design. They didn’t tell me why their site lacked such information. Honestly, a company that can say “always non-toxic” and “low aquatic toxicity” doesn’t inspire me to remain a customer. It can’t be both!

I’ve decided to make my own liquid dish soap. I recently learned how to make bar soap! Good bye Ivory! (From Proctor & Gamble, a company that does animal testing).

Arm & Hammer baking soda, from Church & Dwight, a company that conducts animal testing.

But I’m getting long, when I intended to make this a “short” post. Back to biosolids. Doesn’t sound bad? No. I didn’t think so.

Biosolids. . . . sewage sludge. . . . . human manure. And┬áthey’re used as fertilizer in farming!!! In conventional farming. I can’t be more happy I’m 100% organic. If I never had an argument for promoting organic foods before, I do now!

Yes. If you research it, you’ll find many articles touting the safety and the benefits of biosolids. You’ll also find people against using them. It’s like most any subject, there’s always a “for” camp and an “against” camp.

I’m in the against camp. Why? Because removing MOST of the pathogens in the treatment of sewage sludge before it’s used in farming is not good enough for me! People who claim “a little bit” is acceptable fail to acknowledge a little here and a little there eventually adds up to a LOT. Accumulation. It’s a fact that shouldn’t be ignored.

Pathogens are infectious agents that cause disease or illness. I don’t know about you, but for me, MOST of them being gone is unacceptable. Never mind the presence of contaminants such as heavy metals, pesticides, antibiotics, PCB’s, estrogenic hormones and flame retardants. Everything that gets flushed down a toilet or washed down a drain ends up in a water treatment facility. It all becomes sewage sludge, which then becomes what many people like to call biosolids.

I call it what it is. Shit. Crap. Human manure.┬áI don’t care what it’s turned into. It began as poop. People poop.

For conventional farmers it’s all about money. It’s cheaper to buy human manure┬áturned fertilizer. And what’s the real cost? You. The unsuspecting consumer.

If you think it’s too expensive to buy organic, you just need to learn some crafty tips for shopping. Bulk. Splitting the cost with friends or family. Finding online sources with free shipping. Farmer’s markets.

When it’s your health, it’s easier┬áto justify the cost.

You simply have to begin. One conventional item is replaced with organic and eventually you’re all the way there. Or at least half way because some is better than none ­čÖé

Look for the USDA Organic or Canada Organic symbols. Biosolids are not used in organic farming. And Bob’s Red Mill products are good to go, I heard back from them this morning and they do not buy from growers who use biosolids. It’s important to support these kinds of companies. Demand goes up, prices go down. Hopefully!

What’s cooking? Come see!

Today is Kitchen Day ­čÖé I have the necessary ingredients for soup and pasta sauce.

075Kale, the King of Greens. From my garden. I prefer┬áthis variety (Winter Red)┬áover the curly, store bought┬ástuff as it’s way easier to wash. And easier to spot the little critters when they’re munching away!

Check out Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s list of Top 30 Super Foods, you’ll see kale right up there.

top-30-superfoods

077Cauliflower, number 15. Mine is heading south so it’s time to use it!

I hate waste.

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Onions, number 29 but still on the list. I’m rarely without. I adore them. Raw in a salad or sandwich, saut├ęed with mushrooms and tossed into rice, or in most cooked dishes.

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Veggie bouillon cubes. I almost always have these on hand as well.

Water, sea salt, pepper, maybe some pur├ęed lima beans and I have a wonderful, healthy soup!

My sauce is just as simple to make. 081

Next year I hope to have tomatoes from my own garden, no more canned! I only use them now because they’re more affordable than buying fresh, organic tomatoes ($4.50 a pound adds up fast!)

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Lots of chunky cut mushrooms, peppers and onions (not shown but you know I have) and voila!

Spaghetti sauce without the usual ground beef.

Plus, 5 Super Foods are in there! Even better than the soup ­čÖé

Okay, now I’m off┬áto the kitchen. I have fresh buns from last night. I have salad fixings. I know what the dinner menu will be. Can hardly wait.

** I will mention, only because I’m rather fussy (that’s my nice word for anal) sometimes, I DID have this post looking so good, each description was beside each picture. . . . .all neat and tidy. Until I saved the draft! And then. . . well, it appears as is. Grrr. I don’t have the inclination to fiddle with it. I’m hungry and need to cook!