Thursday, August 04, 2011

Planning a Carribean Princess Cruise





I often look to see if I have any comments on my blogs and was pleased to see this morning that indeed some readers actually did bother to say something to me about what I have written.

I think blogs are all about putting ourselves out there in hopes to find like people or someone that you maybe even touched with something you said. I found both much to my surprise!

I am getting ready to go on my first cruise. I might just document it while I am having the experience so that I can share with readers some of the good and some of the bad in hopes it will help others with their choices in how to travel.

I am driving to Reno, NV to see a friend in the area before catching a "red eye" to New York. Needless to say, I might have a lot of negative to say about the flight. I am not looking forward to being mostly awake for an entire night. I can only imagine how I will look by the time I reach New York! The reason I chose the "red eye" is to make sure that I don't miss the ship boarding. I'd hate to arrive two hours late for the grand event. It would be a night mare to miss my cruise. I need to give myself the room for delays etc. that just might happen along the way.

I might have a passenger driving to Reno. I met a woman at a party not long ago that is going there on the same day and going home about the time of my return. I don't know this woman very well at all and am holding my breath hoping I haven't made a mistake offering her the ride. One never knows what people are like until you get locked up in a small car for an entire day with them! It is like camping with a new friend and you find out they don't like dirt, heat or sleeping in a tent! I have had that not so lovely experience a few times in my life. I remember years ago camping with a friend who expected to be able to look beautiful while sleeping in the back of my truck without running water or even a toilet. She was disappointed that some man might see her as she really was and I was irritated with her insistence on how unhappy she was with her situation.

I will be going on the Caribbean Princess sailing Canada and New England with 5 of my high school girlfriends. We are all approximately 70 years old this year. We have met up every two years for the past 10 years or so. We always manage to step right back into our 17 year old selves every time we get together. It isn't a bunch of old ladies on a trip. It is a fun-loving group of high school girls! We have been to Florida, San Francisco, Boston and our 50th High School Reunion in Indianapolis, Indiana and now the cruise. I have posted a picture of us at the reunion. We have learned that we need to be in the same room most of the time so that no one misses anything. We manage to get suites at hotels and now we have adjoining staterooms on the ship. We won't miss a comment or a giggle.

I have purchased a new suitcase since they decided on my last trip that my old black bag had seen too much banging about and needed to be retired. I have a brand new plum colored suitcase that I purchased on LuggageOnLine. I chose this site after comparing quite a bit. They had free shipping; which really made the decision easier. I also purchased one Eagle Creek Pack it Folder. My friend suggested that I use these suitcase helpers to keep my clothes from messing up. I only purchased one thinking that if I needed more, they could be simple to make. (Have I mentioned that I can be cheap?) I also bought a suitcase luggage scale. I do not want to find myself re-arranging my suitcase on the floor at the check in counter! I am too old to experience airport hassles. I find myself hating the whole flying experience. It use to be fun, but sadly customer service is not part of the new game at airports.

I am almost ready to print off my boarding pass to the ship as one of the last task to finish. I did get a new passport shocked to realize that the cost was $150.00! I think it was less than $50.00 the last time I needed a passport. Ouch! I purchased a cool dressy backpack to use instead of a large purse to slide off my shoulder as I am removing my shoes or whatever. I have walked through airports with all manner of slipping straps, shoes that need too much help getting back on and not having anything to eat for way too long. I will make sure to put some energy bars in that pack pack being careful how big my water bottle is and have a wrap and a inflatable pillow of sorts so that I can try to sleep a bit. Have you ever tried to sleep while an air-conditioner is chilling your body core down to uncomfortable levels? I have! I took a train to Elko, NV once from Oakland, CA. A fun trip wrapped in misery of too cold, no warm blankie with no sleep. All mistakes and regrets can be made good again if one manages to learn from the experience.

One of our friends is driving cross country with her husband stopping by to attend major league baseball games. This has to be a very good adventure for any baseball lover! Another friend is traveling with her husband from LA to Chicago for a few days before she gets on the same plane as I do for the leg into New York. She made her reservation and seat choice without consulting with me and managed to get a seat one seat away from me! Of course, that poor person between us will have to move or suffer from our on-going non-stop chatter. Two friends will fly from Indianapolis to New York the day before. There will be four staying over night in New York with Charlene and I meeting them on the ship. I'm getting tired from just the thought of that long flight from Reno to New York with too many flight changes for a senior citizen to think as an adventure. It will be something to get through as gracefully as possible.

I have been having the strong cravings for an electronic tablet. I'd love a small device to read a book on, check my email and post on Facebook. I am not spending 600-700 dollars because I cannot justify this urge. I am not a traveler. I do it every two years. I live up a river in the woods where being connected on cell phones etc is but a dream. I do have a computer with WI FY, but my cell phone won't work here at home. I cannot be the geek I want to be!

I will keep you posted on this trip as it goes along and/or finishes with details on that cruise for all to see! See you later.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Growing Marijuana as a Newbie


I have been busy tending to my new venture growing marijuana for the first time.

My 93 year old mother has an Oregon Medical Marijuana License. I am her caregiver allowed to grow plants for her use. I missed the whole drug culture like I missed being a baby boomer by the skin of my teeth. I never got into smoking pot let alone trying to grow it.

I started with donated seedlings that I kept in the green house until June when our weather stabilized into what we call our air-conditioned summer. I got a hold of a book and read on the Internet how to take care of marijuana plants. Needless to say, much of what you read is written by not only marijuana educated folk, but many are high when they write their information. I warn you that if you get on YouTube to find out what someone has to say about the culture of marijuana, you will find the guy hard to listen to. Since, I am not a user, the jargon and the presentation seems like listening to someone who has a disconnect with reality of how to present information that can be given credibility. It is difficult to get what you are certain is actually sound advice. I admit that I am biased about knowledge being dispersed by someone under the influence. Much of what you find is for those growing inside a facility with special lights and forced maturity the desired outcome. Those growers want a crop to produce in 75 days. I want something to produce in a season; which is 3-4 months time.

I have been a passionate gardener for years not understanding why all the special care would be needed for a weed. I am very concerned with mold as advised, but how concerned should I be is the question. My husband put up a support system so that I could pull green house plastic up and over the plants if rain comes, or it gets foggy here up river. I am not even sure all this is necessary. We will find out in September what we have done right or wrong. The plants look fine to me, but whether they are male or female has escaped my ability to discern. I have to wait for something to let me know. I think I will know when this something appears. I have pictures of males in all their glory. Anyway, let's hope I can, because I hear that you need to yank up and throw away the male plants. I have a concern that all my plants may be male and that be just wrong on so many levels.

The new bed I created for the pot plants was amended before planting, but at first you could tell that there was not enough green to the color of the leaf. We added bone meal to help with this problem and it worked. The two plants I put into good potting soil in 5 gallon containers did much better. All the plants look pretty much the same at this point in time. I do have one plant that refused to grow. Can you imagine that! That little bugger just sits there very much alive and very much stunted. I know I should yank that out of the bed, but I keep hoping he will find the will to live like his other family does reaching for the sky.

I have a problem with killing most anything so the ruthlessness of yanking out those males will hurt my gardening heart. I will do it as everything I read tells me to do this, but it won't be easy. Males should have some value just for thriving like they should. They have been good boys.

I know those of you that might be reading this that know just how to grow their pot, find me pretty amazingly stupid about the process, but I will learn. Maybe if I would smoke some every once in awhile, I wouldn't be so worried about the process and find a zen feeling just rustling the leaves smelling the possibilities of mom having some fine weed to get that back pain under control. I have found that my dogs will take a nibble as they walk by. Are my dogs becoming stoners?

I will keep you updated with my failures and successes of growing my first crop of marijuana

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Is Your Loved One In Long-Term-Care?



Cleaning up paperwork on my desk, I ran into notes and information that I thought instead of filing away, I could share on my blog hoping that some of it might be useful for anyone having their loved one in a long-term-care facility.






I spent a year as an Ombudsman for the State of Oregon until my mother required my full-time presence if she was to stay at home with us. I am grateful to the State of Oregon for my experience and training. I encourage others to seek out this opportunity as a way of possibly helping our residents of long-term-care for the better and maybe help you personally in years to surely come way before you are ready! I can speak from experience of both having my mother in long-term-care for a year; along with my Ombudsman experience and now as a caregiver myself.






I found scribbled on a yellow note pad some notes that I must have written down during one of frequent training meetings while serving the state as a volunteer regarding meetings for a Care Plan or maintenance of a Care Plan.






When you have a loved one in long-term-care, you should consider yourself their best and strongest advocate to make sure their care is top notch along with protecting their rights. One cannot assume that care facilities have an interest in following the best laid plans for care. They often find themselves short staffed, unwilling to train help to high expectations and/or simply in the business of making money without willing to spend money or time improving and making life and health a top priority for their residents.






When my mother was in a local facility, I found that I could not assume that she was being well cared for. I wrote an article at the time so that I would not forget what she and I experienced. Reading this over, I find myself still angry about her care. I cared. I asked questions and I persisted and still with little or no improvement. I ended up taking her home. My article written in 2008, speaks volumes describing my frustration and my mother's lack of proper care with little dignity.






Back to the yellow pad notes:






Making sure you have the legal rights to sit in on a Care Plan Meeting and to look over facility medical notes either by a Power of Attorney or Guardianship and possibly a note from the resident saying you have this right, attend a meeting of her caregivers in the facility where they are a resident.









  • You can state that you are there to act as your resident's advocate. Keep it informal as you can telling them that you have written permission or rights to access medical records prepared to show them your permission.



  • When you look at the nurses notes, look for problem notes from day 1 and if there are missing dates with nothing written. If nothing written ask for the shift log. Remember getting nasty will not get you what you are looking for.



  • The Care Plan should not have omissions and inconsistencies.



  • Flow Sheets will see what portion of each meal is eaten by your loved one or possibly tracking diabetes issues. Keep in mind that I have had caregivers in facilities report to me that they have been asked to fudge on these reports by reporting a shower given even when they did not shower the resident. Imagine one worker showering 17 residents. Common sense says that this is nearly impossible especially in a Memory Care Unit where full assist is needed.



You might be very disappointed knowing the records could be incomplete or just plain wrong showing you the need for an advocate.







  • Now, you have the added task of feeling the hair of the resident. Is it oily? Does it smell bad? Keep a log for yourself on what you experience. Are their clothing soiled. Is it even their own clothing?



  • Can you smell urine when you walk into a unit? If you can, what else is not being taken care of?



I took an inventory of what my mother brought into the facility and actually took pictures of each and every item. It is amazing to see what is mixed up. I even insisted on washing my mother's clothes hoping to keep this problem at bay. It did not work. Clothes would show up and clothes would go away.







  • Does your loved one have a hearing aid or glasses and false teeth? Note this on her entry forms. Keep a copy for yourself with signatures. The facility is libel to replace lost items. It is hard to convince anyone that she lost what they don't have written down.



We should be irritated and even angry that we have to do all this when we are paying 4-10 thousand dollars a month to house our loved ones in a facility. Keep those notes. Call your local Ombudsman when you have any problems and attend any support meetings the facility has for residents and family. We cannot expect improvements if we do not participate as an advocate watching out for those we love and care for.




Now, is your loved one even wearing the hearing aid or the glasses? Is someone helping them see and hear? My mother was left in silence most of the time.




As disjointed this blog is today, I am hopeful that it will help someone that has someone in long-term-care or is thinking that it will be necessary sooner than later. Feel free to give comments and/or ask questions.




Wednesday, June 01, 2011

A Singular Woman by Janny Scott



I received the book, A Singular Woman by Janny Scott for a Mother's Day gift from my daughter-in-law and son. It was an excellent choice! A review is in the link above and also here -- written by the Indianapolis Star; which so happens to be where both my children were born.

I found myself intrigued and sympathetic to the mother of our President, Mr. Obama. Ann was born one year after me in the Midwest of America where I am also from. Civil Rights came in our early adulthood along with a war many did not believe in fighting. Our world view was similar and our experiences very much the same.

Unlike this remarkable woman, I chose to marry and raise children loosing dreams to explore the world trying to understand what makes us who we are. I would have been in some far off land living in the unknown, if I had been braver and much brighter. I let my insecurities rule my life instead. I failed to give my children a more inclusive view of the world they live in.

I know Mr. Obama's mother failed him by her choices to live separated from him. I know moving to strange places is not a child's dream of the perfect childhood. As she failed her children, I failed mine. I did not follow my dreams. I settled for less and did not grow either mentally or spiritually for years letting my children know that their mother was not important. I was always last on a list to respect. I doubt that Mr. Obama disrespects his mother or finds her incomplete. I found myself rooting for Ann as she struggled living the life I would have loved to join in.

She made a brave and risky choice marrying a black man from Africa. My parents would have died if I had done the same. I had an urge to be someone who could buck the system in order to make our world better. I wanted to stand up with my beliefs holding me steady, but I chose a man who matched the list of who I should marry. How strange it is that even using the list, he turned out to be so much less than I wanted. I was not happy with the traditional role of a married woman of the time. I was always fighting against my limited world. I refused to believe my perfect man would not allow me to have independent thoughts if he did not agree with them.

So, our President had an example of a brave and determined woman. She might have given him instability, but she gave him the world as his place of occupancy instead of only a small area in a safe place here in the United States. I gave my children a sense of constant motion in their childhood by not being firm in my belief of who and what I was.

If I would be Ann's friend today I would remind her of the wonderful choices she freely gave herself. Her children learned from her example. No man of history is discounted for his lack of staying home with his children. Our President would not be the man he is without his mother's example of following her heart doing what she loved and found valuable to give the world. I wish that I had been that woman for my children.

I often wonder what my life purpose is. I'm not sure I even have a purpose. I try to appease myself with thoughts of tolerance and love as purpose. Never the less, I think I gave my children nothing that I consider valuable. It is a sad thought. My children suffer from this inability on my part. They see my tolerance and love ideas nothing to respect or to be emulated.

Needless to say, A Singular Woman, was a hard read for me. It woke me up to what I did not do in life and what I did not give my children. My most important parts will not live on as Ann's do. Thank you, Ann, for giving the world a great man. Thank you, Ann, for being strong and singular in mind. Thank you, Ann, for loving across lines of shoulds that were part of our times. I wish I had said to someone that my son could be President. I did not dream that large. It is my son's loss and my failure.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

An Aha Moment from Oprah


It is now 1 week, plus since my knee hasn't worked well. I went to Medford, Oregon to an Orthopedic doctor on Friday with my nurse-practioner friend, Catherine. We got the examination, questions, x-rays and MRI leaving without any real answers to what happened to that poor knee. The x-ray only showed that I have minimal arthritis in my knee; which I consider very good news for a woman of my advanced age of 70! The whole story is now left up to the MRI; which is taking 5 working days to be read and then the information passed onto me. I expect to hear by the end of the week my summer-time fate.

Will I be back in the garden enjoying my passion without much of a hiccup, or will I be carefully walking about careful not to bend, squat or any other position making it possible to actually get my hands into the earth? I may even be facing surgery of some kind.

Needless to say, just sitting days upon days has relieved my knee of most of the pain. I can still feel it especially if I get off center and find my foot not facing forward at all times. I almost stepped on the cat yesterday causing me to lurch a bit reminding me that, yes, I have a problem. So, no squatting in the garden just yet.

I watched the Oprah OWN Channel when she was talking about what she personally believed on her Master Class program. I found the idea that we can surrender ourselves to a higher being finding that once that surrender is sincere, life often finds the answers to any problems we think we may be having or issues that seem to have no answers will become clear to us.

One of my strongest traits is my bull-dog efforts to make things right or to solve a problem. I can use energy that most people find unbelievable to make senseless into reason or wrong into right. I don't accept gracefully that life is not always fair. I thought that I have been rewarded in my life for being a bull-dog; but now I'm thinking that it hasn't been an actual reward but just admiration from a few for my determination as foolish as it can often be. You can't say I don't try, but Oprah has hit me aside the head reminding me to examine if that determination is just a bratty child stamping her feet in protest or a real effort to change the situation

In the example of my knee, I decided since I am booked for a cruise in early September, I need to do the right thing first and then spend time getting well. I wasn't willing to spend a month waiting to see if my knee would heal itself on its own only to find out I needed surgery for any real healing. In the case of personal situations where I am butting heads trying to get someone to listen, to hear my pleas and to understand me; I think Oprah is right. I need to let the issue go once I see the efforts made have not made a dent in anyone else's state of mind. I need to surrender. OMG, that is a difficult task for me!

In my efforts to make life more fair, I have not waited for any God to solve my earth-bound problems. I have believed God was way to busy. I have held the belief that rewards from God are rare and that it is up to man to make his life both better and/or worse. I still am not a religious woman. I do believe in a God or an energy of sorts. I will now make an effort to surrender to that energy. I cannot always succeed in being the master of my fate. As Oprah would say, it was an aha moment.

For the last five years I have been running into a wall trying to make a bad thing good. Five years is long enough to know what I am doing is not working. Along with my knee, I will surrender the problem to the universe. Maybe I will be hugging loved ones that have found me flawed. If I surrender I might find a blanket of comfort warming me instead of the cold prickly unknown hovering over my life.

I can give up trying to convince others that they need to understand what I am saying. I protest too much making me unloved and maybe not so good. The fact is that no one that matters when it comes to my problem is listening to me. I get support from my husband and my friends who love me unconditionally. Those that do not value the unconditional part of love, have cast me aside as bothersome, manipulative and not worth much. It so happens those who cast me aside are very important to me. I believe I need them in my life. I will stop trying to make it happen. I surrender. Maybe the answer is that I don't need them as much as I thought. Maybe it will be that without me harping at them, they will miss me and remember how special I was. If I surrender, the future is unknown; which is something I don't do well with. That could be the lesson learned to let that certainity not be needed. Hmm...now to get the surrender going. I imagine, like Oprah, I will have to remind myself often and long asking my form of God to take charge instead of me. All my efforts have been useless. It is time for another method. Thank you Oprah for the heads up!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

I have Finally Felt My Age

I am a believer in accepting life as it comes not bothering to fudge on my age or attempt alterations to my body to hide the aging process. I was doing pretty good with this philosophy until I reached my 70th birthday being confronted with aging problems roaring its ugly head.

I hike at least six miles each week; plus whatever I do in the garden hacking and hauling for hours at a time. I have been pretty smug about the fact that I could still do whatever I wanted without suffering aches and pains that seem to be normal for many of my friends. Well 70 dumped on me big time with an arthritis blow up across all the knuckles on my right hand. I was only digging and hacking out 200 lbs of rock from where I wanted to plant a rose bush. Then number two old-age rot happened. My left knee had ached a bit. I was beginning to worry what it possibly could be the reason. After a month of feeling the discomfort, I made an appointment with our most loved Dr. McDougall to check it out.

Almost a week before the appointment, I was attempting to stand up after doing some garden work at ground level. My whole knee seemed to fall apart hurting to the point of nausea. I could visualize a legiment or other long rope of sorts, snap across a bone causing everything to let loose. I actually have no idea what really happened, but I do know what my mind saw as I crumbled in pain.

A good neighbor gave me a knee brace to use. I believe it is why I can still walk a bit without that knee crushing in on itself like it did on Saturday. I immediately started with ice/heat and Aleve knowing how important to not just lie in pain doing nothing for the problem. After two days of total boredom, I took myself to our local medical clinic to start the process of healing. The doctor I saw simply said to get myself to a orthopedic doctor of my choice. I am on my way to Medford on Friday to save myself from being a disabled senior citizen. I want myself to show up again. I imagine that I might be facing surgery; which holds only hope in my mind. I want to get it done, get it done now and return to my mobile life. No, Scooter Store, I am not ready for you yet.

I am insanely bored here on the couch waiting to start a journey back to health. I somehow have lost my concern for the blown out knuckles that hurt in the middle of the night or when I pick up that cup of coffee early in the morning. I can function with pain. I cannot function without being able to weed, hack, haul and plant new life. My happiness is directly connected to the connection to earth that I have cultivated loving every particle of dust, pebbles in my shoes, and blisters on my weeding hand. I feel humbled in the knowledge of how truly tragic it is to loose yourself in random disabilities that are often part of old age. I foolishly believed I would escape the fate of way too many. I imagined myself hiking through my 80's, gardening to the day I died and walking down the driveway to pick up the mail forever. I know I mistreated my knees while riding motorcycles because of the down time I often had not keeping my shining side up.

I will keep you updated by another recital of crap that happens no matter how hard you try to keep it from showing up. In two days, I will see what the cure will be. I will work hard to be back as soon as I can manage..

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Old Time Loggers We are Not

Spring is said to be here, but winter rains are continuing way past their due date to STOP. I am holding on to the hope that June will be the end of rains until Fall.

Jim and I decided we needed to grow more vegetables so we took down 3 of our aspen trees to provide enough sun for an expansion for the garden. I made a slide show showing the progress of our garden so far.



As you can see Jim and I are not "old time" loggers from the woods of Oregon. We are transplanted Californians not realizing that we have little control over a falling tree. Lucky for us the damage was minimal. Jim had to replace a section of rail on the boat and paint over a few scratches.

Since the pictures were taken, the plants have grown and I have added more. It is looking more like a vegetable garden each day. I plan to build a gate and trellis for the other opening of the garden. I grow willow for this very reason. Jim has cut the wood and now it is up to me to create leaving the actual putting together with nails and screws to my master worker bee, Jim. It is raining again today, so tomato plants and gate building will have to wait. I am going for a rustic natural look.






I would like to plant a squash plant to climb up the trellis...or maybe beans or peas. I have a whole file of things to build for plants to climb or be supported by. We have two bean supports in the garage ready to put into action. Jim built two that look similar to this:




He was able to use the FREE inter locking pipes I found at Santa Clara, CA annual clean up. I love recycling. If you want a really good time finding treasures, take a truck to the event and then wish you had a moving van.

I also dug in a new bed along the retaining wall near the orchard for tomatoes and other heat-lovers. We suffer from a marine-layer challenged gardening area. We are 4 miles up river from the ocean, but that fog can creep up over the hills late in the day lasting until mid morning. Tomatoes can be either a bust or do really well. We plan to enclose them with a temporary greenhouse of sorts. That plan is yet to be completed.




this beautiful planted area has been reduced by 2/3 to make room for the vegetable garden. Yes, pretty is nice; but food is better!

So many plans and so little time is my problem. I have crawled, hauled, hacked and loaded tons since moving here 13 years ago. We sit in the aspen grove late in the day sipping wine and wondering where the heck we got the energy to create our piece of paradise. Many of the things we accomplished are not possible today with our much older bodies.



We sit right over there to your right in the dappled shade feeling the cool breeze coming up over yonder hill from the ocean. You can agree that we do live in our own private paradise. The dogs love romping around while we work like dogs.

Salmon season opens today, so I will loose my worker bee when the fish find their way off our shores.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Momofuku for Dinner Tonight




Pictures to the left is David Chang the author of the infamous Momofuku Cookbook; which has turned me into a cooking fool! I am having a love/hate relationship with David. He has managed to completely exhaust me and totally distroyed my kitchen! I love his food! absolutely love his creativity and I appreciate his sense of humor making his book an interesting fun read for any true foodie.

Dinner Friday March 25, 2011

1. Steamed buns
2. Ramen w/ noodles
3. Broccoli mix
4. Green peas
5. Rice brown for the health nuts
6. Rice white for the ones that must stay with Asian
7. Pulled Pork
8. Pork belly
9. Pickled Ginger
10. Cucumber
11. Green onions
12. Cilantro
13. Wine
14. Water
15. Ice
16. Cake being provided by the master cook, Laura
17. Coffee and/or tea
18. Sauces to accompany food
19. Lettuce for wraps
20. Tofu

I have been the cooking fool for way too long! Yesterday, I finished up the ramen base; which took 7 hours of cooking! I always type up a list of what I am serving so I won't forget anything in the final rush of talking, the first glass of wine and putting food on the table. I personally am not in love with pickled vegetables and one of my guest agreed that she doesn't either, so I am not making any. So there!!

I am now ready to take a break from the cookbook, Momofuku. I still crave making David Chang's chicken wings, but was saved from my compulsion because the store where I was shopping didn't have any. Wonders never cease. Thank you store for saving me from myself!
A previous post describes more about jumping into David Chang's mode of cooking. I'm sure anyone taking the time and effort will agree with me that Momofuku is a cookbook we foodies and cooking fools need in our kitchen.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Kitchen Time Well Spent with Momofuku



I wrote on another blog that I had ordered and received new books about cooking. I passed one on to my husband's daughter to read knowing she would find it more than interesting. She is very much me in so many ways that it is scary. No DNA shared; but our interest overlap constantly and continually.

The book I loaned her was Momofuku; which is pictured above. She called me a week or more later reporting her progress with the book. First of all, her husband turned to her and said that she was "Karen" (that's me) before he had always said she was a female version of her father and called her "Jim". Isn't that special that she is now a combination of the two people who love her the most! She kept referring to the book as "Mamafuckyou" instead of Momofuku from her angst at gathering ingredients and cooking for days messing her kitchen up to the max making sure she would never open that book again!

On her next trip up here, she dropped or threw the book back at me. LOL

I took a few days, hours upon hours to really examine this notorious book. I figured out that one must be ready to create many recipes so that one could actually serve most any of the dishes described in the book. The author has a sense of humor. I think he actually knows how this book will affect his readers. I believe he is laughing at our efforts way before we even start them. I can see him thinking that yes, he can really create great exciting, interesting and complicated wonders that will wow any true "foodie"; but let's watch any of them try to actually re-create his wonders.


I was not scared off either by him or by my daughter. I decided to first create a list of what was needed to produce anything. I have included that list here:



Oriental Groceries
bamboo shoots
denjang (Korean fermented bean paste)
dried red chili peppers
dried shiitakes
fish cakes
fish sauce (Squid Brand)
hoisin sauce
jarred salted shrimp
katsuo-bushi [dried fish flakes
kochukaru [Korean red pepper chili powder]
konbu
mirin
mustard seeds
nori [seaweed]
potassium carbonate
rice vinegar
sake
sesame oil roasted
sesame seeds
sherry vinegar
shiro [white miso]
sichuan peppercorns
sodium carbonate
sriracha
ssämjang [fermented bean and chili sauce]
star anise
usukuchi [light soy sauce] Yamasa Brand
salted shrimp
Toban jan
chinese sausage
dried shrimp
dried scallops
dried fish flakes (Mackerel)
fried shallots packaged
Mayonaisse Kewpie
Vegetables
green onions
carrots
onions
daikon
napa cabbage
garlic
ginger
regular onions
carrots
Other
active dry yeast
baking soda
black pepper
bread flour
butter
grapeseed oil
kosher salt
mustard seeds
non-fat dry milk powder
sherry vinegar
sugar

OK, I then could figure out what I could realistically make since I live in a small rural community that has little oriental anything. I found the soy sauce brand at one of our Rays Food Store; which almost knocked me over. I placed an order with http://www.everydayjapanese.com/ for the items I could find on that site. They are printed red on the list. I ordered the soy sauce before going to the store, so now I will have two bottles of that special light soy sauce. The bill came to $45.00. They ship for $10.00 regardless of what you order, so I made the most of it. They emailed me to say that shipments from Japan were delayed. So now, I was dealing with not only a list of unknown ingredients but with a tsunami too! I am now wondering if any of my product will be affected by the leaking nuclear plants. Hopefully, the product was harvested before the tragedy recently impacting Japan.

Now for the work. I decided I could do the pork belly, pork shoulder, and sausage since I had all the ingredients or could buy them locally. From those items I could make steamed buns and clams along with having enough pork belly to also make bacon from my Food Hero cookbook. On Friday, I did some shopping and came home to make a dinner of Clams from Momofuku. I felt like we were dining at a fine restaurant. YUM! I saved the left over broth just because it was way too good to give to the dogs. (to be continued)

I cooked approximately 6 lbs of pork belly (which I had special ordered from Rays), 10 lbs of pork shoulder and 3 lbs of pork sausage. I salted down the remainder of the pork belly to make bacon in 3-4 days from now when it is ready. I mixed up the dough for steamed buns; which was no more difficult than making my usual bread recipe.

My kitchen started looking like a war zone with every large pan and kettle dirty at various times. Both the shoulder and pork belly had to be salted and sugared and covered in the fridge over night; which I did the evening before the big cook fest.

Momofuku uses unfilled steamed buns to create a sandwich of sorts from pork belly, green onions and sauces. I found the steamed buns no more difficult to mix up than my usual bread. I chose to put some pork belly in the bun before steaming thinking that they would be easy to grab when we wanted one. I then decided that the shoulder and sausage could be good choices for stuffing steamed buns. I made 50 buns the first day using some of the sausage and pork belly and like the crazy person I am; I made an additional 100 buns the next day. Hey, logic is that I will never go here for a very long time so why not make a lot and get it over with. I froze them on cookie sheets and then dumped them in bags. We can have green onions with sauces when we eat them. I cannot tell you how many my husband, mother and I ate in that two-day period caring little if we had green onions. They were really tasty! I have a bamboo steamer with two levels. It took forever at 15 minutes a pop. I now know why the Momofuku Restaurant buys frozen steamed buns made by someone else.

I gave my mom and myself a bowl of soup, one of those cooking days, using that left over clam broth, meat scraps, green onion and cut up steamed buns for a soup. I was in love all over again! Everything tasted so dern good!

We also had for dinner since made with scraps of various meats tossed with some noodles adding a fish sauce from the book along with a dash of mirin and chopped green onions. Gads!! Delicious. Did I say I am in love?

The moral of this adventure is that it does take a lot of work to create meals from Momofuku, but I think it will always be well worth it. My freezer is full of small containers of shredded pork, pork belly, sausage and steamed buns. I plan to amaze my family and friends with those delightful exciting taste over and over with little work on my part. I plan to make Momofuku's ramen base soon adding the pork belly and pork shoulder along with chicken later this week. I also am looking forward to the chicken wing recipe and the list goes on.

If you purchase this great recipe book, sit down to digest the whole book first before you start making anything. If you try to create a dish without reading the book, you will find yourself stuck without some of the ingredients. The ramen base is important along with the pork shoulder and pork belly. You won't have time for the 6 hours of cooking to make the shoulder or will find yourself short of a magic sauce because you don't have one of the ingredients for it. Momofuku's dishes seem to be very connected. I plan to have a Momofuku connection between my cupboards, freezer, oven and Japanese bamboo steamer along with vegetables from my garden. So go ahead say "mamafuckyou". I will laugh and be proud to be called out something very close to my most loved Momofuku.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Linking to My DNA of Cooking




I got another book in the mail! It is like getting a box of chocolates to satisfy my craving to know more. I received Forgotten Skills of Cooking the Time-Honored Ways Are The Best over 700 Recipes Show You Why by Darina Allen, who is called "the Julia Child of Ireland".
Last night I was brought back to my roots of Northern Europe reading her fantastic book showing how to create those dishes that are part of my DNA.


The chapter titles are:


  • Foraging

  • Fish

  • Game

  • Beef

  • Dairy

  • Eggs and Poultry

  • Pig

  • Lamb

  • Vegetables Herbs and Salad

  • Preserving

  • Desserts

  • Cakes and Cookies

  • Bread

  • Household Tips

  • Resources

How many of you have tasted Comfrey Fritters? I have Comfrey growing in my garden. I know it is a time-honored herb, but I have never used it in my cooking. I also saw a recipe for a drink made with Comfrey leaves as one of the ingredients.


In her Household Tips, Darina list several old but true methods of helping with a stiff neck, Nettle stings and how to clean the oven. We need to be reminded that there are problem solvers that don't come in a clean plastic bottle with a squirt top formulated with high-tech science and harmful substances.


I suddenly know with encouragement by the author that I could possibly even cure a whole ham and that my Norwegian ancestors would love that salted cod might show up on my dinner table very soon! I found out that it doesn't have to be cod that has been salted to death and stiff as a board. We always laughed at that it was said the real flavor came from the dog lifting his leg on the cod while it was leaning up against the back porch wall. You can use just enough salt to use within a few days to have delicious taste of salted cod without suffering from guilt from knowing that your arteries are now permanently blocked and your blood pressure is off the charts.


I think we partly threw away much of our old cooking methods because we now had refrigerators to keep food safe and fresh instead of preserving them to keep the bacteria from growing. We also got carried away with eating healthier with less salts. Funny, we didn't mind eating McDonald's hamburgers or Banquet frozen dinners. We got rid of the old to replace with even more questionable new foods. We now have engineered and genetically altered foods. Heaven only knows what we eat if we are not careful. Our labeling laws don't always keep up with processes our food manufactures come up with. We can't tell from a label what the cow ate to create the steak we purchase or the milk that we drink.


Darina brings us back to the knowledge that we threw out with the wash in the early 1960's when new was best and old was just that - old and useless. I came into adulthood at that time. I wore Jackie Kennedy styles, made jello cakes and even ate Wonder Bread. Remember Valveeta Cheese? It still exist even though most of us feel it is just colorized melted plastic of some sort.


Through the years, I have chosen my own style to wear, eat whole grain breads, like to make my own cakes from scratch, eat real cheese and even manage to make bread about once a month. But, I have never attempted to go to where my mother never went. It was probably my grandmother who last raised her own chickens, made her own butter and made bread each and every week. My mother born in 1919, thought those skills of making her own food were outdated and unnecessary. She was convinced to throw out the old for everything new. She used only cake mixes, loved those frozen dinners and gave up fresh vegetables for frozen or canned. Advertising pays very well for a reason - it works. We believe what we are told.


Maybe like Egypt revolting in a need for freedoms that they have learned about through the internet, has also had us reaching back into our past to find a simplified way of life without advertising making us choose what to be, what to do and what to buy. I think it is an internet revolution with people like Jamie Oliver shouting at us to think for ourselves. Of course TV has joined this band wagon with shows letting us meet these strange people who believe basic food is good for us. Food without chemicals and genetic engineering is making a comeback. We crave it. We search it out. This is news coming from the people from a food revolution. Companies are rushing in to get their fair market share with labels of natural, organic or whatever sounds good for today. But do we really know they are truthful? They have lied to us in the past. They have lost our trust. We no longer believe that someone else really cares about our welfare. We have to care ourselves. We are searching our past to find a way to know what our own food consist of and to be responsible for our own well being. We are growing our own vegetables, reading labels like those on a mission, searching for meat that has been raised in dignity and health and developing skills that we once thought were needless.


I even thought for a brief moment that I was being innovative. What a foolish assumption. Search the internet for new terms of use like organic, sustainable and chemical free. It is amazing what those searches can find!


Welcome to a new but not original way of life. I hope someday to report that I have cured a ham. I hope that I can get my own chickens soon and that maybe a pig might even find a home with me until the day he feeds my family. I have yet to figure out how to get over killing. Up until now, my life has been eating meat from a plastic wrapped package. I don't hear a squeal, a gasp or see death. Darina even describes how to break a chicken's neck. It is out of my reality, but I know my day will come when I find this as a normal process of life.


I'll be back to report on my progress of reaching back into my ancestry. I don't plan on plundering the shores of England as my Viking relatives did or burn books or kill people for believing something I find disturbing, but I will use some of the past to create a better future. I will bring in what was thrown out with the wash that really needed to be cherished as a healthy wise treasure to hold dear. Comments are always appreciated and enjoyed.

Monday, February 07, 2011

Life as a Food Hero


So, what happened to me since the holidays? I surely haven't bothered to write on my blog that is a sad fact. Well, life takes many turns giving me new direction to what I think and what I do. Simply, I got interested in several different things and found little time to sit to type about me.


Spring is almost here; which got me thinking about my vegetable garden. Not to do anything half-assed is a fault that I cannot manage to control. I read several gardening magazines, books, articles that I had saved and looked up things on the internet in an effort to make the best possible vegetable garden. This took hours that turned into days that ended up in weeks and even over a month! I found a website that was fantastic in letting me visually see what I was planning. It is GrowVeg.Com . This site allows you to draw out your garden plan and even see how many of each vegetable you can plant in the allotted space! Whalla, I could see what I was plotting in my head. If you make a new file, you can then see where you will plant your next season and whether you can actually put the peas where you think you want them. The plan flashes red to remind you that maybe that isn't a good choice taking in the considerations of why we rotate our crops. The first month is free, then the site will charge you a mere $25.00 to continue using it. They even send you emails to remind you to start your proper seeds at the right time because you have told the program your zip code! I always need a slap aside the head and love that email telling me that it is the time NOW!


I also read about a book, "Food Heros" by Georgia Pellegrini and true to my nature ordered the book from Amazon.com. I could not put the book down. You can see a link to buy a copy at the top of this post. I bought a used one from Amazon that made it a tad less expensive. I always buy used books when I can. I am a yellow-underliner and a used book is just as good as a new. It is surely not pristine after I have marked it up! I've loaned the book to two different people who also were excited about the possibilities for becoming a food hero! Georgia also has a blog that you can read on line. I can't wait to buy her other book due to be published in the fall "Hunter Woman". I know my daughter, Lynnette, will love it as she loves the idea of hunting and then using her kill to supplement her larder. To make a long story short, I met up with Anne Boulley at a local party given by my friend, Laura Ashby. Anne and I met up to discuss organizing a group based on the premis of being food heros. Laura and another friend, Lee Sadaat came to the meeting. We will certainly become food heros of Brookings, Oregon! Anne, bought pork belly while in Portland so three of us have made our own bacon! We have also played with making carmelized pork belly. YUM!
The book is so much more than cooking. It has stories about being a bee keeper, beer maker, mushroom picker etc. I really thought I was being so innovative until my mother received her latest copy of Ladies Home Journal. There was an article about something similar! The article is on page 102, of the March 2011 issue. Extreme Housewives is the name of the feature. These women have embraced the kind of back-to-basics homemaking our grandmothers did- and they've been happier. So, just when you think you have a fresh new idea, think again.
Now, I have also encountered the most amazing weather on the Southern Oregon Coast! It has been in the 60's for like two weeks now with full sun, warm breezes and NO rain. I have spent hours and hours...days upon days, turning over dirt, hauling tree limbs Jim has cut down, cleared up spaces that haven't seen the sight of organization in years and strung out my garden plus much more! If it doesn't rain soon, I will die of exhaustion. I missed the first 21 points in the Super Bowl yesterday because after 1/2 glass of nice wine I was zapped out cold on the couch! My arms and hands are limp and my back has twinges of muscle pain from hacking way too many hacks and pulling way too many blackberries from their stronghold on my property. I have cleared at least 200 feet of fenceline, turned over the garden space, hauled wonderous stuff out of a corner in the back acre and much much more! I purchased 75 lbs or more of fertilizer, mixed it and fed everyone that yelled out to me that they might be hungry. I have used 1/2 of it so far.
So, friends and family, I think I need to get off of here and get busy again. The house is yelling that it needs my attention and the sun is shining telling me to yonder out back. The choices are endless and my body seems limitless even at the advanced age that I have become. When do I say enough is enough. I think never.

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We blog about our rural area in the Pacific Northwest . This blog is all about my life and the places where my mind wonders from day to day. Have fun reading and looking at pictures. We welcome comments.

Be sure to watch, just above this blurb, my husband, Jim, using his 10 foot hands-free electric fishing kayak

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Be sure to check out the separate blog to find out about our electric kayak, Kingfisher 10! You can find the blog at http://electrickayakkingfisher-10.blogspot.com . You can also read the features list on this kayak and purchase building plans and building kits at www.winchuckriverstore.com .

About Me

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We moved to our current home on the Wild River Coast of Southern Oregon from San Jose, CA. Our family consist of Jim and Karen, two dogs and two cats. Karen's passion is gardening. Jim's obsession is building electric powered fishing kayaks and fishing.