2016 – The Kitchen Rag

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“How are my sweet friends doing today?” I ask in a baby voice, careful to walk softly without disturbing them too much. My chickens eye me lazily from the tall grass. “Did you guys have nice day so far?” While I am doing my usual crazy chicken lady speech I check on their water levels. All good. It’s a hundred degrees outside. I rushed out of work like a madwoman afraid they might have run out of water in my absence. I worry about many things in my life; my chickens’ livelihood is high on the priority list. It is not dinner time yet. Only 4 pm, the sun is still high, my breezy living room seems much more appealing than being out in the orchard where the heat almost cuts into my lungs. The trees are graciously protecting me from the direct sunlight but it’s not enough. My birds […]

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The Killing Two days ago I witnessed the slaughtering of some of our chickens on the ranch. They were the meat chickens we’ve taken care of since we started living on the Spencer Shadow Ranch. Although I’m usually a mama bear to all of our animals, here I was wearing a red apron over my faded jeans and thick muck boots, ready to slit the throats of my very own birds. I had been emotionally preparing myself for this event for the last two days. I felt it was my duty to do the killing since I was going to eat one of them for dinner. But when our friend and owner of the ranch, Doug, told me he was planning to do it, I breathed a sigh of relief and quickly walked over to the eviscerating station so I wouldn’t have to watch. This was a different method than […]

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Did you know that Greece has over 6,000 islands and islets scattered throughout the Aegean and Ionian Seas, of which “only” 227 islands are inhabited? How do you choose which one to visit? Luckily for us we had my Greek friend Sofia to guide us through the avalanche of information about this topic. Ultimately, we settled on two islands: one popular with the locals (Naxos), and one very touristic but considered the most beautiful of them all (Santorini). After an incredible 48 hour experience of touring Athens we were ready for our next adventure. 5am found us sleepily packing our bags and brushing our teeth in a hurry to catch the Blue Star Ferry boat to Naxos. The ride to port of Pirreaus was lively and our taxi driver gave us tips on the food we should try on the islands. “Make sure to try the Naxos potatoes. They are […]

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Remember when you were a kid and you told your cousin you were going to be an astronaut when you grew up and they split their ribs laughing at you. That time you stood there speechless watching them point a mocking finger at you while your cheeks burned with shame. You vowed then you would never mention it to anyone again, not even to your own mama. As an adult I felt a similar anxiety about our dream of becoming farmers. There was a distant cousin in the form of our bank account laughing any time my husband and I daydreamed about how rewarding it would be to raise our own chickens, pigs, sheep, goats, and cows. I could tell it wasn’t going to happen, so I gave up and moved on, embracing our downtown apartment lifestyle. But my husband didn’t, and I was frustrated by his unwillingness to give […]

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Before embarking on our trip to Greece I researched it tirelessly for about two months. The more I read the more stressed out I got; I had no idea which islands we should visit or how long our stay in Athens should be. I wish I could brag and say that I figured it all out by myself but I didn’t. I cheated. One of my readers is from Athens. And as soon as she heard about my travel plans she walked me through many details and helped me make the right choices for a safe, cost effective, and fascinating visit. I will be forever grateful! My husband and I had planned for my in laws to join us. So it was four of us in Greece for ten days: two days in Athens, three on the island of Naxos, and four on Santorini. We were coming from Moldova, where […]

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I’m seven days late and while my husband fixes us breakfast I run into the bathroom to check again. Maybe I missed it the last time I went to pee. Nope. “I guess I won’t be having any drinks tonight at our dinner party.” I finally start some morning conversation with my other half. He looks up from his plate of food confused. “Why not?” I roll my eyes. Is he serious. “Because I might be pregnant. Remember?” My reply is a bit more biting than I meant it to sound, emphasizing the “remember”. But I’m freaking out inside and his nonchalance is grinding on my nerves. “Oh… yeah… well why don’t you take a test before everyone gets here.” Great suggestion, Honey. Why not. I’ll find out that I’m four weeks pregnant right before I have to host a bunch of people, and since I can’t tell them I’m […]

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I recently came up with an anti acne oil blend for my face that has really helped out with some of my most severe breakouts. But for a face wash I have still been using an expensive French toner recommended by my aesthetician. I’ve spent a lot of money on my face in the past few years due to a staph infection and cystic acne but I am trying to transition towards products I can make at home in my kitchen from simple. wholesome, inexpensive ingredients (like my popular tooth powder recipe). The first time I tried to just put a bit of coconut oil on my face at my friend’s recommendation, I broke out for two weeks. So the search continued. It was long and full of missteps, and the anti acne oil blend has been my most successful attempt at facial products so far. Enter Oregon Grape Root Tea […]

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Recently I introduced a new routine to our nightly schedule – Happy Liver Tea. We live in a world full of environmental toxins. In fact, during a recent thermography the nurse practitioner detected an increased level of estrogenic activity in my breasts. Excess estrogen theoretically should be eliminated by the liver, unless the liver is already overburdened. This was disappointing to me as I am already eating a clean diet, avoid using harmful products on my body, and even doing daily detoxes. But I can’t afford giving up, so I’m now going an extra mile with a few new routines. This tea is part of that. I made up the name in the hopes of sending good vibes to the most important filtering organ in my body. I love sipping on it in bed while I am curled up with a good book or my new writing project. It has two […]

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I’ve been quiet here and on Facebook lately. Some of you have asked for updates, others have expressed concern. I am well my dear readers, and it does good to my heart to hear from you. My kitchen is still bubbling with homemade broths every night. My pantry is still permeated with the pungent smells of lacto-fermented veggies and herbal tinctures. I am committed to making wholesome, nourishing meals for myself and my husband. What has changed then, you might ask. Why haven’t I been sharing my culinary escapades ripe with Eastern European anecdotes? It’s a question I’ve been exploring myself. This fall when we returned from our trip to Europe I began sharing our adventures on the blog. I had so many ideas for posts, photos, outlines, funny stories. But to my surprise, instead of being lighthearted and fun, the posts were heavy with my past. I felt that I was being […]

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I recently found out that I’m struggling with fibrocystic breasts during a thermography exam, so I’ve been avoiding caffeine and chocolate because they can exacerbate the problem. Finding out that you can’t eat chocolate anymore sucks. But let’s face it: I’m a chocolate addict, and if you’re like me, you might think that giving up chocolate forever is a non-option. But I have some good news. You can replace chocolate with carob powder, which has no caffeine, is full of healthy nutrients, and is basically just as delicious! Studies even show it to be good for digestion and soothing to upset tummies. So I came up with these Carob-Peanut Butter Bars to satisfy my chocolate tooth. Working great so far – maybe too well! Ingredients 1 cup of creamy peanut butter (or almond butter) ½ cup of carob powder ¼ cup of raw honey, or less depending on how sweet […]

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