Popular Posts

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

"Backyard 'Farming'"


As I get older I find that I am taking an increased pleasure in growing things.  When I bought my house, the yard was barren of trees or shrubs or flowers.  I later learned that the previous owners had a penchant for saving water, thus none was wasted in the yard.  In the summer, at noon, the Arizona heat is blazing hot and, when I first gazed out into the back yard I could almost see the heat emanating from the naked landscape.

I began modestly to plant a shrub here, a tree there.  First to be planted was one of those one-foot Christmas trees that one can buy in a pot to decorate the house for Christmas.  I planted my little pine and tended it carefully and whispered to it all the big dreams I had for it;  it listened well.  It now stands in majesty more than 20 feet from the ground, throwing shade on my morning patio, its branches dancing with delight in the morning and evening breezes.  I then planted a Pomello tree and its glossy leaves now grace my line of sight and, in the spring, sweeps glorious scents of citrus blossom into my open bedroom window.  I have a dwarf lemon that produces fruit far beyond all expectations and stocks the fruit baskets of friends and neighbors and food banks all.  In my earlier blog (God and Trees and Me) I wrote of my Chinese Elm and compared it's growth progress with that of my mystery tree which stands beside it.  The Chinese Elm must have sensed my disappointment for even it has begun to thrive this spring.  I now have nine healthy and thriving trees in my backyard.  They are providing welcome canopies of shade and, when the winds come, they sing my praises for their care, a tonal symphony that pleases me greatly.

I have also begun to plant garden vegetables in the brick patio boxes that border the rear of my patio.  I have both beefsteak and cherry tomatoes thriving there, along with cucumber and basil and jalapeno peppers to add spice to life!  Each morning I inspect my "crops" and delight at each new tomato flowering or tiny jalapeno emerging from its bud. 

I am beginning to appreciate life in all its forms as I get older.  Perhaps, the secret and ghostly urgings of my farmer ancestors are having a greater influence on me these days.  I am among the first generation of my family who did not rely on the farm for survival.  I come from a long line of farmers; my Friend ancestors were one of the first families to settle in Missouri territory in 1807.  Our family name is prominent in the history of the Ozarks having settled several prosperous farms along the White River there.  My ancestry research shows many Friends who still live in the area over two hundred years later.

Somehow, my paternal grandfather, who was born in the Ozarks, managed to migrate to Oklahoma.  My mother spoke often of the efforts the entire extended family had to make just to survive the Great Depression.  She always said that, without my grandmother's canning skills, and my grandfather's skills in hunting and smoking meats, they would have starved.  They never owned the land they farmed but "share-cropped", giving half of each year's crop to the land owner. 

When my immediate family migrated to California in the early fifties I learned to harvest the cotton and fruits and vegetables but never felt the "pull" of the land that farmers have.  I'm only now beginning to appreciate nature's dance; the pleasure of plucking a fresh ripe tomato and savoring the warm juicy goodness that sun and soil create.  As I harvest the lemons or grapefruit and oranges I take great pride of their flourishing from my care. 

Life is good.

Monday, May 16, 2011

"Beginning My Low Carb Diet- Again!"


Hello Friends,

Well, three days ago I started my Low Carb diet for about the 50th time.  I have had varied success with this diet.  A few years ago I lost 50 pounds on the Atkins Diet, only to gain much of it back over the last several years.  I now use the Low Carb diet to shed a few pounds and keep my weight under better control.  I've found that going low carb for more than a couple of weeks gets pretty boring so I try to endure it for no more than a couple of weeks at a time.

Over the years I've discovered some new recipes that fit well with the Atkins "Induction phase"; for those of you who don't know the Atkins Diet, the Induction phase is the first couple of weeks that require you to consume fewer than 20 carbs per day.  The idea behind it is to stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce hunger pains.

I'll write later on my various experiences with a number of recipes and dieting techniques..but today I would like to share with my fellow low carb dieters a recipe for chili beans!  Yes, low carbers, I said "chili beans!".
Yes, I know the old traditional Atkins chili recipe usually restricts your "chili" recipes to meat alone, but for you who miss your beans in the chili, this recipe is ideal ..and still keeps you in the low carb zone!

Please keep in mind that the below recipe is "spicy hot"...if you don't enjoy really hot chili beans, feel free to reduce or eliminate the ingredients that add the "hot" to chili.  I personally like the chili very hot and spicy because spicy foods tend to satisfy my hunger pains and give me a "full" feeling quickly.

2 pounds 93 percent lean hamburger (or lean ground turkey or chicken)
1/2 cup chopped white onion
1/4 cup frozen chopped green bell pepper
1 Packet McCormick Hot Chili Seasoning
1/2 cup hot salsa, any brand
1 teaspoon Cumin seasoning
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 table spoon garlic powder
1 six ounce can of tomato sauce
3 cups plain water
1 15 ounce can of Eden Organic Black Soy Beans

In a large pot,  brown the meat on medium high temperature
Just before the meat has completely browned, add onions, bell pepper, chili seasoning packet, cumin, red pepper flakes and garlic powder.  Mix the dry ingredients into the meat, then add the salsa and tomato sauce and 3 cups of water, stir well, then cover and reduce heat setting to "low".  Continue cooking on low heat in covered pot for 30 minutes.  Then, add the can of Eden Organic Black Soybeans and cook on low for an additional ten minutes.

Serve in medium bowls and top with mild or sharp cheddar or Monterrey Jack Cheese.  Enjoy!....and note this:

The entire 15ounce can of Black Soy Beans is less than 4 carbs!   A 14 ounce serving of this Black Soybean Chili is less than  8 carbs total and keeps you Induction Phase dieters happy and fills your tummy with some really tasty chili beans!

Bon Appetit!

"Welcome To My World"

Hello Friends,

Welcome to the inaugeration of my blog.  Through this blog I hope to share with you my thoughts, my life experiences, my original poetry, humorous observations and short stores, life lessons I have learned, my adventures in cooking and travel and daily observances that may be of some interests to others.

I think, mainly, I just want to speak as plainly as I can without consideration for political correctness or clouding the thinking process with false premises and double speak.

I would also like to take advantage of this blog to make new friends and share our thoughts about anything we mutually find interesting.

I look forward to the journey.  So, Welcome friends...have a seat there!...can I get you a cup of coffee or tea?

Now...as I was saying...