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I'm never bored. If I'm not knitting or spinning, I'm gardening or reading. Always up to something!

Monday, May 16, 2011

What Not to Weed!

I just finished reading a couple of articles about the 10 healthiest  foods that nobody eats. They include (and some for good reason) cabbage, beets, guava, Swiss chard, cinnamon, pomegranate juice, goji berries, dried plums (prunes), pumpkin seeds and purslane.
Cabbage - Personally I don't get the problem here. I like coleslaw, I love stuffed cabbage. My husband turns up his nose at both. After he ate heartily of my cabbage gratin one night, I told him what it was. He just shrugged.
Beets - Again, not a problem. I peel and cook up the beets, add the chopped greens and cook them both until they're tender. Add a little salt, pepper, butter and balsamic vinegar, yum. Or roast them with a little olive oil and a few other winter veggies in the oven at 450 degrees for the better part of an hour until fork tender. Salt and pepper and dig in.
Guava and goji berries - Would take a little more effort and probably not worth the effort. I eat blueberries every morning so I'm probably covered.
Swiss chard - There's some beautiful looking Swiss chard in the market now (right next to the beets that nobody buys). It takes a bit of effort to make a fresh vegetable but chard is pretty benign. It's not tough like kale and it's not bitter like some of the other greens out there (include dandelion in that bunch).
Pomegranate juice - Tastes fine. Costs much. Again, I'm probably covered by eating so many blueberries.
Dried plums - Come on, this is grandma food, right? Sun sweet has tried to glam them up by wrapping them individually, covering them in chocolate and adding flavoring so you think you're actually eating cherries. Who knew that someday someones job would be marketing prunes. They actually taste pretty good and they even take the pits out for you. They warn you on the package that their pit removing machine might have actually missed some so eat with caution. The tooth you break may not be great for your health.
Pumpkin seeds - These are an under-appreciated snack food. Jazz them up with a bit of oil and seasoning, roast them in the oven and voila, one more hand-to-mouth addiction with extra calories (but much healthier than microwave popcorn). Buy them raw in the health food store and roast them yourself.
Purslane - What?    Purslane.  Otherwise known as Portulaca Olearacea. A lowly garden weed on steroids that I pulled out of my vegetable garden last year by the bushel basketfuls. It loves the heat and doesn't need to be watered. It even looks like it comes with its own garden hose. You can eat it in salad and you can cook it up and eat it as a vegetable. It tastes a bit lemony and a little peppery. Poor man's arugula. I don't call this blog the Quarteracreweedfarm for nothing.

Friday, May 6, 2011

M.S. and High Heels

I had a dream the other night that I was running and running and running. My arms were moving back and forth, my hair was flying and I could feel the cool air on my face. The best thing was that I was running with joy and not tiring. I wasn't out of breath, my chest wasn't heaving, no stitch in my side.
What made this especially weird was that I was never a runner. Would I have been running down this lovely, abandoned beach at sunrise? Not a chance. I liked to walk briskly and I really miss the bounce in my step, the confidence that when I put one foot down and picked the other up that it would actually go up and not catch on the pavement, causing me to fall or barely escape falling by flailing around trying to keep my balance.
But never mind that I was never a runner and never wanted to be. I always equated walking like a lady with being a full-fledged adult woman. Santa Claus (remember him?) would always leave me a sexy pair of plastic child-sized dress-up high heels in my stocking. One year sparkles with metallic elastic straps, another year a water and plastic seashell-filled number that I slipped onto my little feet before I even got to the bottom of my stocking. Ooh, Santa Baby!
As soon as I could get high heels (even those cute little kitten heels that were the "thing" when I was a kid) I wore them proudly. And boots with heels? What says "come and get me" like those?
High heels, be they sandals, boots or pumps, click with authority when a woman walks on a hard surface - you hear her coming and the sound they make can define her mood. Is she in a hurry or is she late? Angry or just in charge of the situation? A slow, deliberate heel-dragging slide could suggest she has a glass of wine in her hand and she's looking for a table (or a man). Heels click around a classroom authoritatively while students are taking their weekly pop quiz. And you know those dresses that can only be worn with a sexy little number with a skinny heel. Boy, I really miss those summer wedges with woven raffia covered loveliness.
Sneakers and mary janes with removable foot beds and orthotics don't carry the same authority. They do, however, usually keep me from landing face down in the parking lot of CVS as long as I remember to pick up that left foot. I started describing myself as "walking downstairs like an old lady" long before I approached middle age. I stubbornly refused to use a cane for years and even now, leave it in the car whenever I can manage without it.
But I do some things to help myself and here they are:
1.) I request physical therapy when I feel a lot of pain in my feet and ankles. For me, pain usually means I'm losing muscle strength in that area and need to get pressure off my joints and ligaments. I took a couple of months of PT before I was able to re-start the Curves for Women exercise program after a long absence.
2.) I have a foot doctor now and she helps me maintain the condition of my feet, usually on a monthly basis. It's not only diabetics who need that kind of care. I have bashed my toes more times that I like to remember because I could not tell where my foot was at the time.
3.) I went to a trusted shoe store that manufactured customized orthotics for my sandals, shoes and sneakers. The footwear isn't glamorous but I haven't fallen since I got the orthotics.
I've spent a lot of quiet time reflecting on the end of my first exacerbation, 25 years ago this month The relief I felt when the severity let up. The joy and  temporary belief that the diagnosis had been a mistake. The frequent flair-ups of the first 15 years and relative quiet of the last 10, inexplicable but appreciated. I try to remember to live joyfully and thankfully, glad to walk in any shoes at all.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Easy Herb Gardening

A couple of weeks of ms symptoms that were getting me down have put me way behind around here. I'm not really stoic - not in denial either. If this were the first time I felt this unbalanced and fatigued I'd be running to my neurologist. It's interesting that the eye doc detected something brewing before I started to feel it...Anyway, I took my first trip to Moorefield Herb farm in Trumbull, which is just a short trip down the road for me. I didn't take really good care of my herb bed last year and some things aren't forever around here anyway, like rosemary. I was afraid I'd lost my lovely sage when it bloomed beautifully and I was correct about that. And it gets very hot where I plant my herbs and I wasn't faithful enough about watering when it got too hot for me to sit on the patio.
So this year I bought a short strip of drip watering hose which should help out with the watering. It looks ugly now but it will get lost in the greenery before too long!
I planted the basics, rosemary and sage, along with lemon thyme (so good for fish and chicken). And I added a couple of really interesting potential time-savers this year, based on the recommendation of Nancy Moore, the owner (along with her son) of Moorefield Herb farm.  Nancy suggested I try Egyptian onions, also known as Walking onions, a name for them coined by President Thomas Jefferson when he experimented with them at his famous gardens in Monticello.
Egyptian onions form a little baby onion at the top of the plant by late summer. Up until the greenery gets tough it can be eaten like a scallion. The little bulbs at the top of the plant can be eaten as little onions (1/2 to 3/4" size), planted to make more adults plants or left alone to walk to the ground and plant themselves! How easy is that?
My second interesting discovery was Vietnamese Coriander, also known as Vietnamese Cilantro or Rau Ram. It's a member of the knotweed family (and looks very much like something I should be pulling out of the garden rather than planting it!) It tastes quite a bit like cilantro and the leaves should be used when they're young and tender since it can become bitter as it gets old (sounds oddly familiar). I think this plant will be a fine substitute for cilantro for me. I buy it in the grocery store, use it once or twice and it gets mushy. Or I grow it, can't harvest nearly enough, the heat gets to it and it's gone before I can snip it into your tomatoes for salsa!