26 lbs of Winter Squash

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We love winter squash around here. I stocked up on 26+ pounds of organic winter squash on a recent outing to Whole Foods, which is a 1 1/2 hr drive. One way.

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Six varieties of winter squash

We dove into our stash of squash with this delicious pork-stuffed acorn squash.

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Pork-pie stuffed Acorn Squash. Recipe from The Paleo Mom, Paleo Approach Cookbook

I’m looking forward to kabocha tots and latkes and other squash goodies.

Feeling Blessed by My Man

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Wood Ducks — Locally harvested, cleaned and cooked by my man

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My plate at lunch today… Aside from the carrots, the meal was 100% provided by my man. In addition to hunting and cleaning the duck, he grew, harvested and cooked the turnips and greens.

Gotta give kudos to my man. He’s kind of a throwback to Charles “Pa” Ingalls of Little House on the Prairie. He’s a great provider of nutritious food. He doesn’t just hunt, trap and harvest food, he Ma Ingall’s it too. While I can garden and cook and fish, (though that’s been awhile), I don’t have any experience with hunting and trapping. He’s got a 50+ year jump on me there.

I admire how he can furnish a meal unmediated by a grocer or grower.

I love how he brings me healing food direct from sky and soil. And I am grateful.

The Bee and Me

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2015-04-20 13.35.51Me and the bee.

We have a history.

Fifteen minutes prior to taking her picture (above), I had rescued her from what appeared to be near-death on our screened porch. She barely had the energy to lift a leg and she had no energy to move her wings.

I used the edge of a piece of cardboard to ease her fragile, semi-immobilized form from the floor into a pint mason jar, then I carried her over to a vine of purple, wisteria-like, flowers dangling from the edge of our carport roof. I slowly slid one of the clusters into the jar toward her. She grabbed one of the  small flowers and pushed her proboscis into it. She clutched the flower with all six of her legs and hugged herself into it. I kept the jar around her for a couple of minutes and she used it for support. I could tell she was still very weak but that she was steadily drawing nourishment from the flower.

She started working her way shakily around the dangling cluster, sucking out nutrients from adjacent flowers. I slowly eased the jar away from her and stood nearby watching. After a few minutes she fell to our limestone driveway. Oh no!… I lowered the piece of cardboard to her and she slowly moved onto it. I eased her back into the jar and carried her to a nearby privet bush that offered an abundance of flowers. Again I lowered a cluster of flowers into the jar to meet her, and again she clutched onto the cluster and began diving into the individual flowers, this time with a little more energy. She appeared ravenous. She would suck and suck nutrient out of one flower and then move, with increasingly more energy, on to adjacent ones.

I could tell she was recovering her strength. It was beautiful to witness. I slowly eased the jar from around her, and I remained squatting nearby with the piece of cardboard positioned just beneath her in case she might weaken and drop. Honeybees buzzed visiting nearby flowers.

Once I had the sense that she appeared strong enough to hold herself onto the privet cluster, I slowly moved back and continued watching from a little farther away. I got a thrill when I heard a little bzz… bzzz… She was beginning to move her wings a little bit. She clutched the flowers and moved between them with her legs. And then, suddenly,… she flew! She flew to an adjacent cluster of privet flowers and began taking more nectar… She was moving much more fluidly now. I decided I would like a picture of her, so I went into the house to get my phone. Upon returning, I found her vigorously united with flower. I snapped a few pictures of her. She flew several times from cluster to cluster.

At some point I thought: I may have helped saved her life, bringing her out of the barren screened porch to her source of sustenance. That nectar is sure some potent healing and energizing stuff!.. And what if… What if she has helped save my life?… By pointing me in the direction of continued healing?. Hmmm…. I am looking into it. And by teaching me some potent lessons:

Witnessing her revitalization taught me that I want to accept help from outside when I get myself wedged into dead ends. And witnessing her recovery reminds me that vitality comes from hugging in to that which nourishes.

Happy Earth Day, Dear Earth!!

I love your pollinators!

Adventures in Pork Belly

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Grilled, pastured pork belly with garden greens

Sunday dinner brought a first at-home pork belly effort by our resident grill meister, (not me), and, dern, that was good!… I had had visions of pork belly on my mind since my novice exposure to it a few years ago at a lovely restaurant, FIG, in Asheville, NC, where I celebrated completing yoga teacher training. When the pork belly was placed before me that first time, I remember being so taken aback by the thick layer of visible fat that I texted a photo query to my brother, the charcuterie and pig anatomy expert in the family. He educated me on the flavor offerings of that layer of fat, and my tastebuds educated me further. Hello pork belly!

The past few days have brought our pig-centricity into the spotlight for sure: rendering lard, preparing & enjoying pork chops, pork sausage, bacon and pork belly. Additionally my hypothyroidism is treated with a porcine-derived medication, and someone I know and love has a pig heart valve.

I want to reflect on a way to honor the pig and express my deep appreciation for contributing to my wellness. I believe one way to honor the pig is to support farmers who optimize their animals’ living conditions.

Lard is the New Black

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So, all those vegetable oils we’ve been sold for the last 30 years are now out, and saturated fats — butter, lard and coconut oil, to name a few — are in.

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Chopping up 5 lbs of pastured leaf pork fat from a local farmers market

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into the slow cooker for a few hours on low

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to render into pork lard

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straining the rendered lard into jars

I’ve been reading and listening to the science from the experts and incorporating their wisdom into the nutritional side of healing from my autoimmune condition via the autoimmune protocol (AIP) of the paleo approach. I haven’t used corn, canola or vegetable oils for eight months.

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5 lbs of pork fat rendered into 2 1/2 qts of lard

When we cook with fat, we reach for lard, beef tallow or coconut oil. Olive oil and avocado oil are healthy but not always suggested for cooking. Read more on healthy fats here.

Wildharvesting Thistle

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Thanks to a sequence of Serendipitous Events, we now wildharvest and eat yellow thistle from the fields around our home. We learned the how-tos from a local woman who came to our home last weekend to buy our honey extractor and in the process shared some of her wildharvesting know-how with us. Somehow we had not come across her SurvivalHT youtube channel yet, like multitudes of others had.

I snapped these pictures of our thistle harvest this morning.

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I’m not sure why this is called yellow thistle, but we are pretty sure that’s the name of this variety that is prolific near us. Fortunately, they are all edible, so mis-identifying is not a concern.

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After lopping off the flower, we slice along the stalk to remove the thorny leaves

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A few harvested thistle stalks to add to the lunch menu

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Thistle chopped, looks like celery, loaded with nutrients

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Thistle mixed with chopped beets and fennel and mixed with lard

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Roasted in the oven with asparagus…

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…and served with grilled pastured pork chop