Lula – Take 3

In the oven: Crackers – made from discard sourdough starter; various toppings. (See recipe at bottom of post)

Focaccia 3 ways: truffle sea salt; fresh herbs; fig, goat cheese and caramelized onions. There is also a pizza bianca thrown in there (made from leftover pizza dough)
Focaccia 3 ways: truffle sea salt; fresh herbs; fig, goat cheese and caramelized onions. There is also a pizza bianca thrown in there (made from leftover pizza dough)

Lula is my bubbly new sourdough starter. She is named after a character in the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. Lula’s character sports a huge personality; someone practically bursting from the seams (literally). She brings life to the series even though she is not the main character. I felt it an appropriate homage to name my sourdough starter after her.

This is my third rendition of Continue reading

Dark and Stormy Weather


**I am sitting out on my back porch as I write, Magen’s Bay as my backdrop, watching the pelicans dive for their meal and listening to the water gently lapping at the shore below me. Yet I know this peaceful setting will disappear come morning…

In the oven: Pork Shoulder, braised in white wine with a medley of vegetables; Tex-Mex Black Beans; Rice; Carrots Glazed with Mustard and Brown Sugar

In my glass: A Dark and Stormy (see below)

The past several days have been crazier than normal for me. Between traveling, a funeral, and preparing for Once-Hurricane-Then-Tropical-Storm-Now-Tropical-Depression Danny I have stayed plenty busy! Danny is supposed to come through late this evening, and while we certainly do not need the flooding and winds that come with a hurricane, here in the islands we have been experiencing a drought and could really use a good soaking rain and filled cisterns. This is the driest I’ve seen it in the two years we have been living here.

Every indication is that the storm will barely cause any damage and bring maybe 2-4 inches of much-needed rain. The Sahara Dust that hovers in the air keeps most of the approaching storms at bay; however, Danny may bring enough moisture to clear away much of that dust, and the storm lingering just beyond Danny could be trouble. So really we are worried more about the storm brewing behind this one. As any good Girl/Boy Scout knows, it is good to be prepared…

And so we are now properly stocked up on water, canned goods, batteries, and Rum…you know, island essentials. Our landlord has installed the Hurricane Shutters on the house we rent and made sure the generators are fueled. Most of the boats we normally see moored around the island have been moved to safer waters. It seems odd to drive around the island and see so much open water harboring so few boats. The cruise ships are even keeping their distance, meaning fewer tourists, as well. On a positive note: this makes for much less congested trips to run these all important pre-storm errands.

‘Dark and Stormy’ 2 parts ginger beer, 1 part blackstrap rum. Serve over ice w/ lime wedge

Despite the impending storm, today has been rather sunny. The skies are only just beginning to cloud over now. But I know once that first storm of the season passes, it will take with it the refreshing breezes we have now, and the air will grow still and mosquito-filled. This will last until some time in November or December when the Christmas winds return. Until that time (which may be sooner than later) I will enjoy every second I get of this. 

Tonight I am preparing a hearty meal in anticipation of the weather to come (see above menu) and hope I get enough for two meals so I don’t have to cook tomorrow. Somehow it seems appropriate to have a robust meal when a storm is coming, even in this heat. Below is the recipe for my Braised Pork Shoulder. Enjoy!!

Braised Pork Shoulder

  • 1 3 lb pork shoulder (season both sides with salt, pepper, rosemary and thyme)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 2 celery stalked, sliced
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 2 T whole grain mustard
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 1/2 c. White wine
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees

Brown the pork shoulder on both sided in a heavy duty dutch oven. Remove from pan and let rest.

Add vegetables to the pan and sauté until softened. Stir in the mustard and garlic.

Add the wine and bring to a boil. Place the pork shoulder back in the pan and remove from heat.

Cover, place in oven for 30 minutes. Turn after 30 minutes and cook for another 30 minutes or until done.

When done, take pork out of pan, let rest for 10-15 minutes, then slice and serve. Don’t forget the vegetables!!

Vegan Thanksgiving Ideas

I have aIMG_0891lready been planning my upcoming Thanksgiving menu. In fact, I have been working on it for a few weeks now, since early September as a matter of fact…

Am I crazy??

It’s not as crazy as it may first sound given the amount of travel I do each month, and given the fact that this Thanksgiving will be a bit more hectic than normal. Yes, there will be a multitude of pies. That is a must in our family! However, this year I am adding a few more guests to the mix – both for dinner (No, not in a Hannibal Lecter sort of way!) and as house guests. I am also throwing a big bash to celebrate my husband’s 50th birthday the Saturday after Thanksgiving. And of course Pie Night is the day after Thanksgiving (which is the day before the big party). Then there is decorating the house for Christmas…my goal is to have it completed the day after Turkey Day so my eldest can see and enjoy it before he leaves. He will not be back for the holidays this year. To further add to the complexities, this is the first Thanksgiving since my youngest son adopted a vegan lifestyle, so I have been diligently poring through new recipes to add to many of our traditional ones.

My challenge is to combine traditional Thanksgiving choices with vegan options, but options which are every bit as festive as the holiday itself.  I will still make my turkeys (two ways: roasted and smoked…sometimes I add in fried for some extra fun and gluttony!), and I will still have traditional sides such as stuffing/dressing, potatoes, breads, etc. However, I firmly believe that the point of Thanksgiving is about family and friends first, food (gulp) second. Yes, you heard me correctly: food is second. And so I will be adding in vegan choices.

I have not always treated Thanksgiving as a ‘food second’ sort of holiday. In fact, I imagine my family will agree that they often felt the roles were reversed.

This year will be different!

I may even let my family help cook the meal this year! This is a dramatic departure from the norm, and will require a great deal of letting go on my part. My son has already offered to help, and I plan to let him. Vegan options for the main meal are not so much of an issue for me; however, dessert proves the bigger challenge. I firmly believe in butter and lard as not only ingredients to make the best pie pastry, but also that they are healthy for our bodies. All in moderation of course!

Some ideas I have had on the pie front: Using vegan cookies as an option for crusts on the vegan pies. While the vegan butter my son has bought does taste good, it uses oils and ingredients I don’t want to incorporate into my eating lifestyle. I have also found a crust recipe that uses dates as the ‘fat’ in the crust from a vegan Coconut Banana ‘Cream’ Pie recipe I stumbled upon which sounds very tasty.

I will keep you all updated as the menu progresses. Perhaps I will even provide a recipe or two.

Buon Appetito!!

9.11.01 – A Soul Cleansing Tribute to the day we will never forget…

Remembering this day 13 years ago…Seems as if it was so much more recent than that. So much changed for our country. Some for the good, some not so good. People came together in ways they had not for decades. And then the fear set in, and we became more estranged than ever.

So when people post on FB ‘Never Forget’…well, how can I? How can we? I feel it was an awakening for all of us. We have, both as a country and as individuals, reacted in many different ways. Some have become overprotective, like helicopter parents hovering, fearful that everything they have worked so hard for will be taken away. Some have retreated in their fear, ‘protecting’ themselves from the unknown. Some have chosen Love.

I chose Love, and I continue to choose Love. I choose not to retreat, but rather to engage. I choose opening myself to all cultures, all beliefs. It is in the listening that we develop understanding and acceptance. Your beliefs may not be mine, but closing myself off to them is like cutting off my own hand. For if we as a country – as a Universe – continue to judge and profess which way is the ONE way it should all be done, that leaves out an entire population of souls who don’t share in that particular ONE way.

How sad.

Denying another’s view is like denying their very existence. Not only does it not offer any sort of validation, it labels them wrong as humans. Who wants to be a mistake? Is it so difficult to see why entire groups who have been ostracized for their beliefs would develop such hatred?

Peace can only be found through Love. Through listening and understanding. Through non-judgement. It IS attainable. And it begins within each of us. We begin by loving ourselves. We cease to judge ourselves and begin to accept who we are – all of it. This then translates to loving others, again, choosing acceptance over judgement. And so on…and so on…

I choose Love. This is how I honor this day and all days. Namaste…

Go [pastured] Pig or Go Home!! A small rant…

This cutie lives on Ridge to Reef Farm in St. Croix!!

So this morning I have already found myself on my soapbox regarding bacon, eggs, grass-fed beef, et al. I get so frustrated when I see all those diets floating around…and there are so many supplements out there it truly boggles my mind. I know it is generally more expensive to eat organic produce, pastured eggs and chicken and pork, and grass-fed beef. Or at least in the short run. It is MUCH more expensive in the long run to eat all that processed food…expensive in the form of higher health care bills and the possible [probable] cost of a shorter life span and lower quality of life.

What if we all began demanding GMO-free foods? What if we all demanded grass-fed beef? And pastured chicken, pork and eggs?? What if, what if, what if…?? And more important than ‘what if’ is why don’t we already? How did we let something so important as food get out of our hands? This is what goes into our bodies. It is what our bodies use to grow and be nurtured and sustained. You know the expression: You are what you eat. I certainly don’t want to be some sort of chemically processed, sugar-laden, GMO filled being!!

Somehow it was decided that raw milk is no longer good for us, and in most states is it illegal to even buy it. How did we let that decision get taken away? If I want/choose to buy raw milk, I should be able to buy it. I can read about and determine the risk factors for myself. How did it come to be that someone else’s opinion about what is best for me overrides my own?

And how about fats? Yes, I said it: FATS. “Fats” is a BEAUTIFUL four-letter word that has been vilified over the years – especially saturated fats. Saturated fats are necessary in our diets (did you hear that:necessary!!), especially when they come from sources such as pastured pork and grass-fed beef. They are rich in many nutrients our bodies need. NEED…Did you know that the nutrients in vegetables are better absorbed when you add a little fat – such as butter – to them? Lard rendered from pastured pork is high in vitamin D. Just a couple of examples to blow your mind a little.

These subjects and others are topics to delve into further at another time. For now  I will finish by stating that I stand by my credo of eating in moderation. Anything can be bad for you if you go overboard…I don’t do ‘diets’…at least not in the typical sense. My ‘diet’: I eat as local as possible, I consume grass-fed/pastured  meats/eggs/poultry, and I move my body…generally via walking or Nia. I work to keep balance in my life spiritually, mentally and physically. Life is just too short to eat fake food…