Seafood Gumbo

I just made gumbo for the first time ever!  I have to say it is really great and I will do it again.  Even Jim liked it and he is not really a seafood person.

 Thanks to Barbara for the recipe!

3 T. olive oil
2 C. onion, chopped
1 C. celery, chopped
2 large tomatoes, chopped
8 C. organic chicken stock
8 C. water
4 cloves garlic, minced
Tamari, black pepper, and red pepper to taste
1/2- 1 pound fish (any kind), in chunks
2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 cup frozen clams
1 T. parsley, finely chopped
1/2 t. "gumbo file" (dried sassafras leaves)

Moisten bottom of a large pot with 2 T. water, then add oil and heat with medium heat until hot.  Add onions and celery.  Cook until onions are wilted and then add tomatoes, chicken stock, water and garlic.  Cook over medium heat for 30 minutes and season to taste with tamari, black, and red pepper.  Add fish, shrimp, clams and parsley.  Cook another 10 minutes.  Garnish with a sprinkle of gumbo file.

This is super easy!


take a hike

Jim and I just celebrated out tenth wedding anniversary!  It is a big deal to me.  Some how getting in to the double digits seems like we accomplished something.

We decided that the bast way to celebrate was to revisit the place where we got engaged and where we were married.  Come along on our hike!

This is the meadow where we go married.   (yep, same as the picture in my header and yes you read the elevation right)

If you look down from the mountain you see medicine lake.  It is more like a glorified puddle, but we love it.

Look at this!  There is still snow up there!

The hike gets really scrambly at the end.  All the rocks are loose and they slip down the mountain as soon as you take your foot off of them.  Every so often there is a bit of life that is clinging on even in such a harsh place.  This columbine  just made me smile.

We had to take a break.....  Jim made sure that I documented how tired we were.

He really is up there.  Jim made it... I chickened out when the rocks he stepped on started to hit me.

It was fine because the view and the silence were amazing.

It is hard to see in but there is a very dead tree and a very dead cow in this picture....  I thought they were both kind of cool.

This little guy was super cute and not afraid of me at all.

Thanks for coming with us!


Fruit flies-Trap & Zap em

I LOVE this time of year! The weather cools off a little and it seems that I have a lot more ambition for everything.   I love how fruitful and abundant my life feels.  I love that the dehydrators are going full steam and that the freezer is full of peaches and plums.  I love the bottled produce all lined up neatly in a row on the shelves.  I love that every one who comes to see me leaves with a bag of goodies from the garden.

But I HATE....

fruit flies!

One day you have no fruit flies and then the next you have hundreds.... and the next day they are a million strong.  Are you kidding me?   After much googling and experimenting here are the things that actually work and you most likely have everything you need already!

First do your best to prevent them in the first place.

Fruit flies love sweets, ripe vegetables and fresh fruit, especially if it’s overripe (the fermenting process is a strong attraction for them). If they’re in your house, they’ve found a food source to feed from and lay their eggs on. To effectively get rid of fruit flies, you need to find their food source and remove it immediately.

Wash kitchen counters and surfaces daily with soap and water. Wipe up sauces and spills immediately, look under heavy appliances.

Make sure to keep kitchen sinks and drains washed and clean, if dirty the residue can attract fruit flies. If you think your kitchen sink drain is where they’re gathering, pour boiling water down the drain each day.

Make sure all food dishes are washed and put away (do not leave dirty dishes out). If food is eaten throughout the house rather than just at the kitchen table, look for dirty plates, fruit pits, rinds and peels that may be left out in another room. Look under furniture.

Don’t leave beverage bottles, cans and glasses filled with fruit juices, soda pop, or spots drinks sitting out–these are big attractions to fruit flies.

On hot summer days, tie up and remove garbage from the kitchen daily, the refuse and kitchen scraps start turning faster in the heat and the smell attracts the fruit flies. Or make sure the garbage bin has a tight fitting lid to keep out the flies.

Make sure to rinse out all cans and bottles before placing in the recycling bins.

Keep food and fruit wrapped in plastic or in the refrigerator (especially overripe fruit, this is like a magnet to the little pests). Fruit flies love to lay their eggs on food.

Watch the pantry, bags of potatoes and onions are quicker to turn in the heat and this will attract the little flies. Keep pantry shelves clean of all drips and spills.

Next you could try to trap them.  Fruit flies are one of the easiest little pests to bait and kill, no elaborate trap setups required. Here are a handful of homemade traps you can try, all of them are free from harsh chemicals

Cider Vinegar Trap Recipe
1 cup water
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tsp dish washing liquid

Directions: Pour into a jar or bottle and set out close to fruit & produce. The smell will attract the fruit flies and they will come investigate, getting themselves covered with soap and then drown.

Fresh Fruit Bait
Place a piece of cut fruit in a jar (use a ripe/overripe banana if you can, this seems to be their favorite). Roll a piece of paper into a funnel (cutting the bottom tip so there’s an entry) and place into the top of the jar to trap fruit flies. Make sure the bottom opening of the funnel doesn’t touch the fruit (you don’t want the fruit flies to have an easy exit) and that the sides of the funnel fill the jar opening completely (no cracks for the flies to get out). Make sure to remove and replace the fruit every two days to avoid breeding new fruit flies. You could also skip the funnel and just cover the jar with plastic wrap, poking a few small holes in the top for them to enter.

Coca-Cola Trap
Leave an inch or two of Classic Coke in the bottom of a pop bottle and twist on the cap. Take a hammer and nail or drill to make a small hole in the cap (about 1/4″ diameter). Set the bottle in the room where the fruit flies are heaviest. Fruit flies will crawl in and won’t be able to get back out.

Yeast Trap
In a mason jar, sprinkle active dry yeast over 1/3 cup warm water. Add 1 teaspoon of sugar and stir.
Once the yeast is activated and starts to foam, cover the jar top tightly with plastic wrap (try to keep the surface wrinkle free), secure with a rubber band.
Make a small hole in the top for the fruit flies to find their way in, most will be unable to get out.

Or you can Zap them!  This is by far my favorite way and the most fun.  I also think it works the best.   I am really into using what you already have on hand.  Since I am a hair stylist the tools I have an abundance of are blow dryers.

This is too easy.  All you do is get your dryer and turn it on high and hot.  Then turn it around backwards and point the air intake at your fruit flies.  You will have to get pretty close to them, but that isn't a problem because they aren't fast moving.  They get sucked up into the dryer and cremated on the heating element.  Game over!

*note to all my clients:  I am using my old dryer. (not the ones in the salon)

Once it seems you’ve gotten rid of the fruit flies, you may notice a fresh batch flying around–these are likely those that have hatched from the eggs of the previous fruit flies (the gestation period is about 7 to 10 days). Repeat the cleaning process and lay out the traps or zap until there’s no recurrence. This is why it’s important to find all their food sources, fruit flies lay eggs on the food that will hatch later.  This is also a REALLY good reason to wash your fruit before you eat it.


Homemade Vanilla Extract

It seems like there is always some kind of experiment going on in the kitchen here.  My husband is an amazing cook and my daughter is following closely in his foot steps.  I just like to tinker and try new things.  Sometimes they turn out and some times they don't.

One thing I am really happy about is the vanilla extract!  It is super easy and tastes better than what you get in the store.

Did you know that the vanilla bean is not really a bean at all?  It is a seed pod that comes from and orchid.

Today vanilla is still hand pollinated using a technique developed in 1841 by Edmond Albius, a 12 year old slave who lived on the island of Reunion.
Vanilla is so incredibly expensive because of the enormous amount of time and care that goes into every bean pod.
Each orchid flower produces one vanilla bean pod after it’s been hand pollinated. The orchid flowers only bloom for one day so the timing is everything!
Once a flower has been pollinated the bean pod will take around 10 months to mature. It has to be harvested at the right time to ensure the highest quality. After the vanilla bean pod is harvested it goes through an extensive curing process.

Not many herbalists use vanilla medicinally today, probably due to the high cost of the beans. Historically, vanilla has been used as an aphrodisiac, for stomach pain, coughs, as both a stimulating and relaxing nerving, and even for venomous bites.

Using a good quality vanilla can really make a difference in your baking and it's so easy to make your own there's no reason why you can't have the best on hand at all times.

Homemade extract will keep indefinitely too! All you need is some plain vodka, vanilla beans and a few clean bottles.

The following directions will make six 4-ounce bottles.

You need:
Six 4-ounce Amber Boston Round Glass Bottles
12 Whole Madagascar Vanilla Beans
3 cups unflavored vodka.

Thoroughly wash the bottles and caps in hot, soapy water or toss in the dishwasher and allow to air dry. 

Slit each vanilla bean lengthwise with a sharp knife, stopping 1/4-inch from each end.

Cut each bean in half crosswise, giving you 24 pieces.

Place 4 pieces of vanilla (2 beans) in each bottle.

Using a funnel, pour 1/2 cup of vodka into each bottle and push the beans down to submerge.

Screw the caps on tightly and place the bottles in a cool, dark place to steep. The vanilla will be ready for initial use in 6 weeks, but 8 weeks is optimal for the most flavor.

See how pretty the process is!

When you give this as a gift make sure to tell your friends that they can just keep topping off the bottle with a little vodka or rum and it will keep going and going.

Next time I do this I am just going to get the vodka and put the vanilla beans right in it.  It isn't as pretty for gifting but perfect for home use.

Try this! It is so easy and fun.



Since I have started following the Primal Blueprint it has been one adventure after another in cooking.  This year I have learned how to use the BBQ, I have learned how to use the broiler, and also I learned that the crock pot is the best invention ever.

Part of healing my body from my spider bite and now from fibroids involves using the best (chemical fee) ingredients I can.  I feel so lucky that we have a garden and my parents are really generous to us and keep us stocked up an beef.

Just a short walk from my house is this little shop.

Isn't it cute?  As it turns out ...  there isn't a "Geezer" at all.  It is really two sweet ladies that work there.  They have natural and organic meats.  Some of them are a bit more exotic than you can find at the super market.  like bison burger and steak, venison, and elk.   I saw that there was a pack of Ostrich jerky... no I didn't dare try it.

I settled instead on a nice big organic ham.  I know those little oval shaped hams you can buy are not really meat they are more like glorified lunch meat. That's not what I wanted.   I have cooked a spiral ham before and it turned out good but I wanted to splurge on something better. 

This ham I got from the Geezer was not spiral cut but the girls told me how to cut a ham and sent me on my way.

The basic cooking instructions were the exact same.  Heat the oven, put the ham in a roaster and pop it in the oven for a few hours.  The first thing I noticed was that it had two bones in it not one like the spiral ham did.  (they must remove it?)

I didn't want any glaze on it and I think it looks pretty.

 The next thing I found that way different is the fat.  They must remove the outside fat from the more processed hams because under the skin of this one was at least a half inch of fat.  I was a bit worried when I saw that, but it came right of when I cut the ham.  I just tossed it but I am sure there is some use for it.  I do think it helped keep the ham nice and moist.

I'm learning lots of new things this year and it is kind of fun!


Easy fruit salad

This is more about the picture because it is way too easy to call a recipe.  Isn't it pretty?

So just take what ever fruit is in season.  Wash is really well and slice it if needed.  Put it in a pretty bowl.  I like to save out a cup or so and run the immersion blender over it. Drizzle that over the top as a quick garnish.

I Used mango, blue berry, and black berries.  You are only limited by your own imagination.  If you feel like fruit and you are watching your sugar peel, seed, and slice a cucumber and add to the mix.   Sometimes a drizzle of coconut milk is nice too.



The deer seem to be moving in and they are not afraid of me at all.

This little buck got so close to the house that I could have reached out the window and touched him.

These two were walking right down the sidewalk.

and... this one decided that he lives in between the metal shop and the wood shop.

So far they are leaving my flowers and garden alone. 

from my animal book:
Deer has entered your life to help you walk the path of love with full consciousness and awareness, to know that love sometimes requires caring and protection, not only in how we love others, but also in how we love ourselves.

A deer's senses are very acute and they see extremely well in low light, giving them the ability to understand the deeper symbolic meanings of things. They can hear a twig snap a very long way off. People with this power animal are often described as being swift and alert. They are intuitive, often seeming to possess well developed, even extrasensory perceptions. Sometimes their thoughts seem to race ahead, and they appear not to be listening, to be somewhere else. Anyone with power animal has latent clairvoyant and clairaudient abilities. They can see between the shadows, detect subtle movements and hear that which is not being uttered. Ask the deer to help you develop these true gifts.

The set of antlers grown by the male deer are antennae that connect it to higher energies. If you come across a deer in the wild, try to count the number of points on their antlers. This number is associated with numerology and can carry great significance for those with this power animal.

Deer teaches us to be gentle, to touch the hearts and minds of wounded beings who are in our lives. Don't push people to change, rather gently nudge them in right direction, with the love that comes from deer. Love and accept people as they are. The balance of true power lays in love and compassion.

When a Deer totem enters your world, a new innocence and freshness in about to be awakened. New adventures are just around the corner and there will be an opportunity to express the gentle love that will open new doors for you.


Quinoa Tabbouleh

It is that time of year again.  It is hot hot hot and the garden is beautiful.  I keep tabbouleh in the fridge all the time as a quick and cool meal.  Using quinoa instead  of couscous really ups the protein in this dish and I think it tastes better.

1 C. water
2 C. quinoa

3 small tomatoes, chopped
1 small cucumber, seeded and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks green onion, chopped
1/2 C. cilantro, chopped
1/3 C. olive oil
juice from one large lemon
salt and pepper to taste.

In a sauce pan stir together the quinoa and water.  bring to a boil, cover and reduce heat to medium low.  Simmer for 15 minutes or until cooked.  Fluff with a fork and set aside to cool.  In a large bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well.  Place in the refrigerator to cool.  Serve this chilled.

This is so easy and fresh tasting!  I love using it as a filling for the lettuce wraps.


Eggs on the BBQ

My husband thinks anything can be grilled....  even eggs!  This time of year I am grateful to have all the heat outside of the house so I am game to try any new ideas.

Eggs don't like me that much but, I don't mind making these for my family.  Look how cute these are!  Jim says with a little salsa these are smoky and delicious.


1 large bell pepper, the bigger the better
2 eggs
Hot sauce or salsa
salt and black pepper to taste

You’ll need the bell pepper to sit stably on the grill, or else the raw egg will spill out and make a tragic mess. Place the pepper flat on your cutting board and slice in half parallel to the board. Scrape out the seeds and placenta (yup, that’s really what it’s called), being careful not to pierce the outer wall.

Crack an egg into each half of the pepper. Try to distribute the egg into the whole cavity.
Place the filled pepper over the hottest part of the grill. It tastes best with the pepper’s skin charred. Close the grill. If you’re going to eat it with a knife and fork, cooking it to over-easy is fine. But if you’re going to serve it as finger food, cook it a bit longer, so you don’t have a runny yolk. It’s great on its own, but better still with hot sauce, salt and a little black pepper on top.