Archive for October, 2009

Vote on Tuesday

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

The most important thing is to vote. Whatever your inclination. But if you’d like an opinion, here is mine.

I’ve wavered on the proposals for over a month. And I am going to vote yes on them all. I will suport the millage, because we can’t risk having the resources for the best education possible for as many kids as possible. Yep, there is mismanagement. Yes, there are additional cuts that must be taken. But in the end public education is vital for a positive economy and a future for our kids. I have no kids, I pay taxes in two school districts, I don’t like conventional education, so what am I getting in return? The best possible system we have so far. It is still a good system, and absolutely vital for Michigan’s future but most importantly the future of those kids who don’t have other options. It is a very very small price to pay.

I will also support the charter amendments. Frankly, this issue has gotten bizarre. Right now the public notices are being published in the Washtenaw Legal News. Not a publication I read or plan to read. No one I know relies on these public notices to be informed. And yet somehow, people in Ann Arbor are very well informed. We pay attention. We have some great new news sources, and more emerging.

Yes, a public record taken by a third party is important. But that can still happen. The charter is now archaic. It needs to be updated to reflect the present reality. Requiring print publication is actually holding us back.

The robocalls – I’ve gotten 11 so far – are anonymous, make false accusations, and have certainly influenced my opinion AGAINST their message. Today they claimed this amendment would result in further loss of my home’s value. That’s absurd. And implying that a half way house would move in next door and the rest of it was equally insulting. If lying, non-local, harassing people are against this amendment, you can bet I will give it a second look to find a reason to support it. And that wasn’t hard at all.

The argument that homeless people and senior citizens will be left in the dark is also insulting. How many of them have read the legal notices in the Ann Arbor News? That would seem a low priority for someone without a place to live struggling to survive. And our seniors are mostly very computer savvy, and again – who among them is actually interested in the legal news or reading the current paper that is publishing this info.

I support the charter amendment.

I will also be happy to trun out to vote for my Friend Mike Anglin for 5th ward council person. We may nto agree on everything (Argo Dam being the largest thing likely) but I respect his attitude and approach. He deserves another term.

But vote. Please. It matters.

Soup recipe – a new favorite

Saturday, October 31st, 2009

After making up soup recipes for a couple of years now, I’ve found some talent in combining tastes and favorite ingredients. This one seemed obvious, and it was indeed a great soup. Here is the recipe.

So many soups start with sauted onions, I chose to skip that step to cut down on calories and frankly to end up with a variation on that taste. Which is great, but I wanted a softer blended taste. So I used a lot of onions – two big organic ones – chopped, and just put them into the soup pot with the water that was heating. I had filled the pot about half way with water. Next, about 2-3 cups of red lentils, rinsed really well. i had both red and white potatoes, and cubed about 6-8 of each. A quart of canned tomatoes, and a bit of salt. I added enough water to come to the top of my large soup pot. I let that cook about 2 hours. Just before serving I made some fresh garam masala. In my coffee grinder I blended about 1 1/2 tbsp cumin seeds, about 8 cloves, the seeds from 6 cardamon pods, about 1/2 tsp cinnamon, a few pepper corns, a whole dried cayenne pepper without the seeds, about 3/4 tbsp turmeric, 3/4 tbsp coriander. Each bowl of soup had a little of that sprinkled over it. There was planty of left over soup, and I just added the rest of the garam masala to it before freezing.

A little spicy, wonderful blend of flavors, nice texture with the potatoes, and not too acidic with the tomatoes, the lentils gave it a thickness and fullness that was very satisfying. But the key id the very fresh ingredients of the garam masala. That makes this soup a wow!

This amount would serve about 15-20 people. If you’re going to make soup, you might as well be serious about it!

Recipe: An unusual fall soup

Saturday, October 24th, 2009

Last night I made soup based on a few tips from Peggy Lampron, one of my fellow bloggers on annarbor.com It was a leap of faith, and it was a great one.
I was making a few gallons, so I’ll give quantities for that size. It was improvised, so the ingredient amounts will remain a bit vague. I don’t think being exact will matter.
I took my large soup pot, added about 1/8 cup olive oil, and sauted five large leeks, washed well and chopped. As that cooked, I peeled about 8 medium to large sweet potatoes. I then chopped them into medium sized hunks.
I added about 1 1/2 gallons of water to the pot, and then the sweet potato chunks. I let that cook for about 45 minutes on medium high heat, covered.

I took about 5 or 6 pears, that were in not great shape. Quartered, and cored. I left the skin on.

When the sweet potatoes were soft, I used my immersion blender to blend what was in the coup pot. It made a very rich, thick, lovely soup. I let that cook a bit more, then added the pears as is. After they had cooked for about 20 minutes, blend again but not as thoroughly.

That was left on low heat. I pulverized some allspice, and grated some nutmeg and added that. That was the only spice, no salt, nothing else. When I served the soup, I had it out with a small bowl of raw goat milk yogurt. I swirled that on top of the soup when it was served. The white contrasting against the brownish orange color was very lovely. And the slight sour from the yogurt was a great contrast to the sweet soup.

This was a great soup for the sweet flavor, the interesting pear accent, the colors, and the texture. Very nice. I have enough left over to freeze, after feeding about 15 people. It should freeze well. Good use for pears at the end of their lives!

The latest tweets on Wildcrafting

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

Follow me for daily wildcrafting updates via Twitter. Here are the last few twitters, most recent first. Look for an expanded edition of these posts on Ann Arbor.com either later tonight or tomorrow morning.
*****
Prickly pear fruit. A friend had some from south. Tasty, a bit slimy, and then there are the seeds. Sure are a lot of fruits in this world!

Autumn olive berries still tasty, if you can get there before the birds. Easy to freeze as well.

Tried to harvest or at least see cattail roots, but the stalks are too rotted to pull. Saw only dead parts, so not sure if anything edible.

Went through at least two grocery bags of apples, 1/2 again that much in pears. Over a quart of crabapples from last week, juiced whole.

My Champion juicer got a workout, did great with lots of fruit. Lots to compost and some pulp will go to making alcohol/vinegar.

Major processing in 2 hours over 2 gallons of cider and pear juice, also crabapple juice which needs some additives. But overall wow.

Picked a lot of comfrey leaves to make herbal vinegar. The med student class helped make it. They also tasted ginger and stinging nettles.

Danger! Danger! annarbor.com blog posting on wildcrafting http://bit.ly/117zAs

Picking up acorns. Picking up acorns. More acorns. I thought they were done, I was very very wrong. Lots more work still to do!

Pure sap (full strength straight from the tree) frozen for later use instead of water when cooking oatmeal, in bread recipes, or just drink.

Every maple tree in color makes me think of maple sugaring to come. Enjoying the syrup I made last year, and about to use the sap I froze.

Went for a walk and was tasting and picking up acorns etc. and the person I was walking with seemed uncomfortable. Wouldn’t try anything. Hm

I normally try to always use plant common name and Latin so there is no confusion. Hard to do with twitter I would run out of space so easil

My foraging friend shared acorn flour “acornbread” with me earlier. Dark, richer than normal, very nice and different. Interesting.

These are large tasty crabapples. I’d like to try juicing them. I like juice more than jam, and so many of these fruits jam is suggested.

Canoe trip on the Huron today. Harvested crabapples, pickerel weed seeds, cattail root tips, found watercress, still no wapato.

The recent rain washed away a lot of the flavor from the staghorn sumac fruit. Still a hint, but not the explode in your mouth tartness.

The pears are softening but the root cellar is too warm at 60 degrees. They are in the spare refrigerator, but they don’t seem happy there.

Recipe for layered polenta, SELMA Breakfast part two annarbor.com blogging http://bit.ly/4zYfk3

Photos & more from recent tweets http://bit.ly/AE5s1

Dam out

Sunday, October 18th, 2009

I sent this e-mail to my council people, and the mayor. This is up for decision tomorrow, a rush to judgment on a very controversial issue. It would be good to have a decision, but there has been no new info, reports are still trickling in, nothing to justify a sudden decision.
And in my defense, I am on first name basis with John and Mike, so the informality is reasonable.
___________
Dear John, Carsten, and Mike,

I don’t think I’ve had a chance to talk to you about the Argo dam. I’ve looked at the information from the Huron River Watershed Council, I’ve canoed the entire length of the Huron except for two lakes, I’ve talked to people pro and con. And my conclusion is the dam should be removed.

We know that dams are archaic, and not good environmental stewardship. This is an issue for the entire watershed up and down the river, not just Ann Arbor and certainly not just the rowers. The science says take the dam out. The economics say take the dam out. The environmental reasoning is the river is best served by being unrestricted. The proper thing to do is to begin to remove dams. Improving this dam in this day and age makes no sense at all. It is not looking at the long term needs of the river and the environment.

Process wise, a sudden rush to decision after all this time makes no sense. If you were waiting for more information, have you gotten it? I don’t think so. Is there a report, a study, or the results form a public hearing that make this the right time to decide? Not that I’ve heard. And certainly bringing a proposal to council with less than a weeks notice, after clearly hearin ghtat this is something that people care about passionately and with clear polarization, means you need to be very pro-involvement on the decision making process.

Please vote no on the dam in proposal.

At least object to the process so that the proper procedures can be followed. A rush to judgement now will create more negative feelings over not just the decision but the sudden rush to subvert a proper process.

Thanks for listening.

A short canoe trip

Monday, October 12th, 2009

This was a throw the canoe on the car and head out in the hours after I finished work and before it got too dark and cold. It was sunny, not really warm, and the colors are coming to a peak.

There is an easy put in up river from Maple Rd off huron River Drive. Another canoe was just ahead of us, and a red 1974 VW bug had a rack on it that probably held the tandem kayak we saw as we set out.

The paddle sup river was easy, even with a headwind. But many distractions, including a pretty open Honey Creek. When we last navigated it we were stopped early on by a log across the creek. We made it to a little waterfall that provided aural ambiance so we stopped and ate a snack, and enjoyed the sun.

There was a crabapple leaning over the water that had those tasty yellow tiny apples. So I picked a lot. Gary went after some pickerel seed, which I hadn’t realized is edible. Apparently one wat to eat it is roasted, and added to something like granola.

The rosehips were a bit off, so no gathering of those. I already knew the sumac was lacking i flavor form teh recent rains. Gary spotted some watercress, and once rinsed with good water that was a nice treat. i pulled up a cattail and found about an inch of edible enjoyment. That isn’t much from a whole plant, so we gave up on that.

On the way back I took some fall photos, a few turned out nicely with the shadows and reflections from that late day sun. When we got to the railroad bridge crossing the river I wished out loud for a train. A in a few moments, the whistle was the response. A short passenger train arrived soon after that. Something about being on the river when a train goes by – I find it thrilling.

The sun dipped behind the trees and it got a bit chilly. Time to put out. Just a few hours, simple, peaceful, and beautiful.

Dating Update – Protocol for Revealing the Obvious?

Friday, October 9th, 2009

I’m in a very awkward position of not really wanting to put dating on hold for the rest of the year, but there is this awkward and kind of weird issue that can’t be hidden. As in, yeah, it isn’t that I’m really fat, I just have this basketball sized tumor in my belly.

There isn’t a really easy, light, let’s not get too personal too fast sort of way to do that. Oh yeah, and then there is the part about I may need to take a break for 4-6 weeks to recover from major abdominal surgery. But we can have fun in the meantime, right?

Sure, even as I become rather self absorbed and given to bouts of crying for no apparent reason, obsessing over who will take care of my dog, how to pay bills while not working, concern over abandoning my clients, and having some real feelings over being rather dependent and not so much independent for a rather long (and totally unprecedented) period of time.

Yeah, so I’m kind of in a vulnerable awkward place where the fun and comfort of dating and physical closeness and hope is still really important. And it is hard to relax about in person meetings when I’m feeling rather physically disfigured. The tumor is growing, and it has become more and more obvious.

My usual style – transparent, up front, generally works kind of well but not all strangers want to hear about huge tumors and blood loss. And I don’t think contemplating 12-16 inch scars on your potential love interest is a huge turn on. But I could be wrong about that. You never know.

So here is my plan.
** Find as much humor in as much of it as I possibly can.
** Provide the info/warning before any in person date.
** Don’t indulge in the temptation to answer everyone who asks “how are you” by making them imagine how a basketball can fit into someone’s belly and what that might feel like.
** Try and believe it when a guy says I’m attractive. Attraction is more than not looking pregnant, after all. I am looking much more slim and fit and yeah nice smile nice hair — not bad except for this bizarre lump in my belly that turns out to be larger than a basketball.
** Look for other descriptors other than basketball. That’s even getting old for me. The surgeon even promised not to start dribbling it in the OR. See humer, above, are there funny ways to describe large tumors? What is wrong with soccer balls?
** Try and expand my comfort zones. I’m comfortable about the surgery. I’m pretty OK with being in pain. Being fed for a week or two has a lot to say for it. Can I get more comfortable feeling disfigured and bizarrely shaped? Just for a few more weeks. I did it before. Well, that part seems to bring on the previously mentioned tears. Needs work.
** Explore this impulse to tell people about the surgery/tumor/medical details so they know it isn’t just being fat. Does it really help, or make things worse and really uncomfortable? At least we are all wearing more clothes since it is fall, is it less obvious?
** Give up on MDs who are condescending and clueless. They have started to emerge, there will certainly be more, no energy need go there.
** If there is an educational component I’m happier. Work that angle. Much much much much better than self absorption and soliciting pity and scaring people.
** If I start to freakout, it is almost always because I don’t understand something, information is missing, or someone is not listening or acknowledging or validating me. I know that, so I also know the solutions. And they are pretty quick and easy, really.
** Keep writing. It helps. And more of that potential for greater education/sharing/helping others.
** I am in a vulnerable spot, so it makes sense that I feel really vulnerable. I can explore that, I can learn more, and it is a good point of contact with people who care. Oh, but it is uncomfortable.

It is going to be a weird couple of months. Maybe I’ll just refer all potential dates to this blog. If they can deal, great, if not, I have yet another screening tool. The other side – meaning somewhere around Jan 1 – is bound to be interesting as well. Much potential. One known fact – I will be feeling much more healthy and happy to have my body back and no future tumors. Yeah. That is something to focus on. Outcome.

From Twitter that last week

Thursday, October 8th, 2009

You can follow me, or see the tweet compilations every few days. These are in the order of most recent first.

*****
I had just had homemade cherry pie at a friends, still warm, so a great contrast to Cherry Dogwood. I will explore tomorrow, perhaps juice?

Came home to a gift of Cornus mas fruit – from a Cherry Dogwood tree. Too tired to appreciate it totally, but tried one berry was very nice.

Blogging about guest host experience at SELMA http://bit.ly/v18av “amazing” oatmeal and “awesome” applesauce.

Picking up the last of the acorns. Many more seem to now have worm holes. And of course the squirrels are working hard to take them all.

Made cornbread and added frozen service berries. The bag says Solstice 2008. From downtown corner of Liberty and Ashley. Very yummy.

Plaintain common name – Plantago – the common wide leafed plant found in lawns, paths and driveways. Decreases pain, promotes healing.

Plantain leaves can be ground with water and frozen (use food processor). Use later for cold sores, throat pain, if you bite your cheek.

Even that little bit of cold and frost can make the dandelion greens less bitter. Try some and see. Also improves the taste of rose hips.

Ground Cherries are still not ripe – they are full on green, only a few are yellow.

Of the toxic plants out there, many are dangerous because they contain large amounts of oxalic acid. Virginia Creeper berry current example

Wild grapes are ripe and edible. You need to be certain you can tell grapes from Virginia Creeper fruit which is toxic to kidneys.

Wonder if paw paw has chitinases, causes latex-fruit allergy. I feel this same sensation with Chyrsanthemums. I do have mild latex allergy.

Finally got to taste paw paw, similar to mango and papaya, but grows in MI. Suspect an allergy to it, however. Itchy around my mouth, eyes.

I keep noting Maple trees – thinking of who to ask to tap next Feb for maple sap to make syrup. I have friends with large trees. Good.

Guest chef for SELMA breakfast tomorrow. Only wild thing on the menu is applesauce, picked and made into sauce within an hour. 6:30 am frid

At wcbn studio recording for a show on healh mon. I will talk about wild food

Blog expanding on twitter posts http://bit.ly/1qSjet