Friday, October 30, 2009

The "Public Option" IS our bail-out, America

"Be not simply good, be good for something." -Thoreau

Contact your congress people and representatives!
Email, web sites info, and ground address for US Senators/Representatives can all be found here.

And here is NY Congressman Anthony Weiner's site, Countdown to HealthCare, where you can sign petitions, get up-to-the-minute informatin on what and how things are moving through congress. I am tempted to move to NY state, just to claim Weiner as my rep!

Don't you wonder how a Democratic President, elected on a platform of reform, with over whelming Democrat majorities in the House and the Senate can take a hugely popular social program and turn it into a corporate give away? This is about as good for us as Medicare part D (which essentially gave billions of dollars to the pharmaceutical companies!)

That's just what's happening with the "HealthCare for America" act recently introduced by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. the way it reads, right out of the box, the "public option" is described as "requir(ing) most individuals to obtain health insurance but do too little to make sure they can afford it. But beefing up insurance subsidies would drive up the cost of the bill, which not only would threaten Obama’s $900 billion spending cap but would unnerve centrist Democrats already worried that the bill does too little to constrain healthcare costs." (

"We think that it was eight times normal volume and it was certainly higher than the demand that we had when the first stimulus bill went up," he said. "It was probably the highest volume of traffic we've ever seen." -Jeff Ventura, White House spokesperson, on the flood of calls, email, and faxes to the White House in the 24 hours after the announcement about the bill was made. (see full story here)

Late October 2009 MSNBC Poll asks "is it important to give people a choice of a public option? -- a combined 72% answered that it was either "extremely important" or "quite important," while just 23% said it was "not that important" or "not at all important."

October's CBS NewPolls tell us Americans continue to overwhelmingly support a Robust Public Option - the question was:

Now 9/2009 8/2009 7/2009 6/2009
Favor 62% 65% 60% 66% 72%
Oppose 31% 26% 34% 27% 20%

While fewer people answered "Favor" than back in June, still almost 2/3 of the people polled want a Public Option that covers everyone, no exceptions, equally. How simple is it to see that what we WANT, what we VOTED FOR in November, was to CHANGE the system that does not support "average Americans"?! If your Senators and Representatives are not helping to move this change forward, they are not listening to you and your neighbors. A Public Option will only work if EVERYONE is IN THE POOL. We must pester them into letting us ALL in.

"If the public option leads to a single-payer system, it'll be because private health insurance couldn't offer as good a product to consumers -- that government-run insurance turned out more affordable, of higher quality, and better overall. It'll be because consumers preferred government-run health insurance to private insurance. Isn't that their choice?" succinctly stated by Sahil Kapur in his blog post today.

Paul Krugman (Nobel prize winning Economist, and columnist for The New York Times) wrote an opinion piece supporting the recently unveiled House plan here. "For this is the moment of truth. The political environment is as favorable for reform as it’s likely to get. The legislation on the table isn’t perfect, but it’s as good as anyone could reasonably have expected. History is about to be made — and everyone has to decide which side they’re on."

P.S. check out this link if you want to know what some people think this is really an Insurance Company Bail Out bill.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Canning & Preserving 2009

From our little garden this year, a bounty of food!
Stan's apples trees contributed quite a bit of fruit for us as well (it was low yield year for the pear tree - so we only got a few. I still have jars of Pear Sauce, Pear Butter, and several litres of "Poplar Pear" wine from last year!)

Completed :
  • Tomato sauce, 6 pts
  • Diced tomatoes, 7 pts
  • Enchilada sauce, 4 pts
  • Ketchup, 6 - 1/2 pts
  • Bar-b-q sauce, 6 - 1/2 pts
  • Garlic Dills, 6 qts
  • Icicle pickles, 8 pts
  • Cardamon Applesauce, 6 pts
  • Apple Pie filling, 5 qts + 1 pt
  • Cranberry Sauce w/Port 6 - 13 oz.
  • Apple Cranberry Brandied Mince filling 6 pts
  • Cranberry Pear Chutney 4 pts
  • Plum Walnut conserve 4 pts
  • Honeyed jalapenos, 6 - 1/2 pts
  • Hot Thai Vinegared peppers, 1 pt
  • Grape jelly 6 - 1/2 pts
  • Ginger Marmalade 9 1/2 pts
  • Sunrise Marmalade 13 1/2 pts
  • Bitter Marmalade 8 1/2 pts
  • Gingery Apple Butter 9 1/2 pts
  • Sauerkraut 9 pts (11/15/09)
  • Brown Sugar Applesauce 10 pts (11/15/09)
Yet to Can:
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Gingered Honey jelly (for sore throat days)
  • What else? I need a few more apple suggestions - and any other "special requests" will be seriously considered :-)
  • I also have about a gallon of huckleberries in the freezer- 2 quarts for holiday pies, and the rest for.....

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Better Bread - Gluten-Free and Smiling!

Well, it's not the end of my quest, but here is what I've come up with - it is a tasty, yeasty, and scented with warm grainy-goodness. (remember the last loaf that I said smelled a bit "bean-y? By the 2nd day - the beans had won and the loaf was out!)

I know it's a long list of ingredients (especially when "Bread" used to mean only 3! flour, water, yeast) And I used my bread machine again, but this is my own creation - and it's good enough to make the weekly kitchen schedule!

Robbin's Better Bread -GF recipe

Melt 1/4 c. butter
Off the flame, whisk in 1 3/4 c. whole grain rice milk, then
whisk in 3 whole eggs.
Place these wet ingredients in the bread machine.

Mix the following thoroughly with fork or whisk:
3c. Gifts of Nature GF Baking mix
(there are no bean flours in this mix !)
1/2 c. sorghum flour
1/4 c. teff
(I used it whole-grain , not flour. It's smaller than poppy seeds, but I think this is what smells so good!)
1/4 c. quinoa flakes
2 tsp. whole, golden flax seeds
1/4 c. expandex (modified tapioca starch)
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. xanthan gum
Scoop the dry ingredients into the machine, on top of the wet ingredients.
Make a shallow "well" on the top, and sprinkle in 2 1/2 tsp. yeast.
Set machine for "Quick" breads, or use the shorter setting (only one rise)

Jon's dad, Stan has once again supplied us with bushels of tasty apples this fall, and I've been busy preserving their goodness. Besides eating out of hand, and the Apple Pie Filling last week, we now have several jars of Cardamom Applesauce to see us through the year. We love cardamom, so substituting it for the cinnamon I would put in the sauce was a no-brainer. Smelled lovely and tasted even better. Jon ate a bowl of warm sauce that didn't fit into the jars, with grated cheddar cheese, and declared it Cardo-yum (I kid you not).

And here's the TAMontana that I created for Karen to thank her for that scrumptiously beautiful Montana wool she gifted me with last week!!

TAMontana Instructions

Super easy, and really works up quickly because the middle section is a fish-net lace.

Implements required:
set of size 6 double point needles
stitch markers
a functional brain
size 8 24" circular needle
dk - light worsted weight yarn: less than 50 grams.

Starting at the crown, with size 6 dpn, cast on 8 stitches and divide evenly across 4 needles.
This is where you are allowed to say a few bad words, but keep your focus. It's all down hill after the first 3-4 rows!
ROW 1: *K1, YO, K1* around (12 stitches)
ROW 2: Knit around
ROW 3:
*K1, YO, K1, YO, K1* around (20 stitches)

ROW 4: Knit around
ROW 5:
*K1, YO, Knit to 2 stitches before end of needle, YO, K1* around

Repeat rows 4 and 5 until you have about 100 stitches.
This is where you have to use your brain... if it seems like the crown is too big, begin the next section a few rows earlier, or if you want more room, extend the above section a few more rows! This is very flexible :-)

Second Section: Change to circular needle, and Knit one more row around.
Row 2 : *YO, K2tog* around.
ROW 3: Knit around
Repeat these 2 rows until this section measures about 3 1/2 -4 " long.
End with a Knit-around row.
Use this last row to make any adjustments to your stitch count so you end up with a number divisible by 4 for the ribbing section coming up!

Third section: Change back to smaller size 6 dpns (or a circ. 6) and begin ribbing:
*K2, P2*
repeat every row until ribbing is desired depth. (I like it about 1 1/2")
Cast Off ( I prefer to cast off knit stitches, knit wise and the purl stitches, purl wise.)
Weave in ends... the original cast-on tail can be pulled through the first round to tighten up the "hole" before weaving in!
Voila! You can block it, or not depends on how stiff you prefer your tams.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Apples and Pears and Peppers and Squirrels! Oh, My!

Where have I been?!
First, there were pears..... later, there were pear tarts, pear sauce, and pear butter :-)
Then, there were apples!!!

Now there are many, many quarts of Apple Pie Filling, and there is yet to be applesauce and chutney!
Apple Pie Filling for Canning!
Peel and Core Apples - I think I had about 15#
Immerse them in a couple of quarts of water, + juice from 1 lemon
to prevent discoloration while working

Drain apple slices, and place in kettle, along with about 2-3" water, 1/2 c. maple syrup, 1/2 c. sugar, 1/3 c. minute tapioca..... and cinnamon - lots- maybe 2-3 tbs!
Simmer for about 10 minutes - you want the apples slices to get hot and fork tender, but not mushy . You might also want to dip in a clean spoon and adjust your seasonings at this point!
While the apples cook, sterilize your quart jars and get your lids ready. I got 6 quarts and 1 pint out of this batch.
Ladle hot fruit and cover with syrup, and add 1 tsp. lemon juice to each jar. Place sterile lids on , and process in hot-water-bath 30 minutes for quarts, 20 minutes for pints. I actually used my pressure cooker, and did one quart at a time - 5 minutes at 15# pressure, letting the pressure drop naturally before removing jars to rest.

Next came the march of the Peppers - so they had to be roasted, and mixed with some delightful tomatoes, and canned and voila! there are several pints of Enchilada sauce in the pantry!!

Enchilada Sauce (for canning) 4 pints

Roast 8 -10 large green chilies (Anaheims and Poblanos were used this time!) either over a flame (gas stoves) or in the oven (4" from the broiler- watch them, and turn frequently!) Remove from flame/oven and when cool enough, remove stems and seeds.
Saute 4 onions, finely chopped, in 8 tbs. olive oil until soft. Add 12 cloves (a whole head) of garlic, minced and cook, stirring for 3-4 minutes,
Puree the chilies and 4 large, flavorful tomatoes (we used the last of the heirloom brandy-wines!) in a blender.Pour it all back into your cooking kettle. Add 6 oz. to
mato paste
, 1 tbs.. salt, 1 tbs. ground coriander, 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper, 2 tbs. ancho chili powder, 1 tbs. ground cumin. Again, adjust your spices at this point! Cook over low flame for about 20 minutes - it will reduce slightly, and the flavors will begin to meld.
Ladle into 4 sterile pint jars and seal with sterile lids and rings.
Hot water bath for 30 minutes.

But now, there's the added dilemma of..... BREAD! if we are Gluten Free now (and we are)
bread becomes the "holy grail". I've made three attempts - This one is the best so far, although when toasted, the garbanzo flour can smell a bit, well, bean-y!

I'm still being forced to use the Bread machine to make it look like a loaf, but at least this one make pretty good "whole grain" sandwich bread. Moist, and slices well :-) I'll be questing for a configuration of flours that allow me to shape a loaf for awhile I think.

Sunday, Zuzu discovered that a downed squirrel is a yummy squirrel. She was so full of herself, and later, she was so full of squirrel..... ergh! I won't show you pictures of that one.

Lastly, we spent a really nice day, Saturday, up at Daniel and Karen's new (120 acres) sheep spread on Saturday. Look what Karen gave me?! 6 skeins of naturally colored Montana Sheep's wool! Shhhhhhhhh. don't tell her I've got a little plan :-)

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Public Option -Too Popular in Wisconsin?!

Speaking about HealthCare.... I believe the polls that state that a large majority of Americans are so sick of how health insurance companies control the delivery of services, that over 60% (many plls place the figure more than 10 points higher!!)of us want - NEED!- a Public Option - (Medicare for All - type option!). Take a look at what has happened to just that type of program in Wisconsin - it is TOO popular, and the state is about to stop enrolling citizens!

On June 15th of this year, Wisconsin began experimenting with a public health option, BadgerCare, to adults without children in a program called BadgerCare Plus Core Program. It is very basic, has a one-time enrollment fee, no monthly premiums, small co-pays, and covers primary care and generic medications.

So many adults have signed up for the program that as of October 6th, sign-ups will be suspended and those who sign up after that day will be put on a waiting list. The Wisconsin legislature approved (it's essentially Medicaid) funding for 54,000 people…and over 60,000 have signed up “at a rate of 500 per day” and are still signing up!

Friday, October 9, 2009

Gluten Free-Wheeeee?!

I just got back the test results - the test I procrastinated having done because I just didn't really believe it would show anything - and am shocked to discover that
Intestinal antigliadin IgA antibody was elevated, indicating that you have active dietary gluten sensitivity. For optimal health, resolution of symptoms (if you have them), and prevention of small intestinal damage and malnutrition, osteoporosis, and damage to other tissues (like nerves, brain, joints, muscles, thyroid, pancreas, other glands, skin, liver, spleen, among others), it is recommended that you follow a strict and permanent gluten free diet. As gluten sensitivity is a genetic syndrome, you may want to have your relatives screened as well.

So, it seems I am off on a new culinary adventure- because I sure as heck won't stop eating or cooking!!!

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Can she can she can she?!

Yes, we CAN!!

I have been mad in the kitchen lately 'cause the garden has been put to bed, and I have boxes of pears, apples, tomatoes, plums, and peppers in our little house - and they invited a bunch of dark bellied dew lovers in to visit. Well, I really got annoyed that the DewLover family keep inviting more and more relatives over, so the produce.... is going to have to produce!

for this batch of Honeyed Pickled Peppers I used about equal amounts jalapenos, banana peppers, and ripened, red banana peppers.
I assume that you know enough to sterilize your jars and use proper pepper precautions such as wear gloves and don't touch your eyes!! ;-)

For 4 Pints (8 - 1/2 pt. jars):

Prepare about 2 - 2 1/4 pounds peppers: wash, slice into 1/2" rings, and seed.

Prepare brine:
4 c. organic ("live" - the type with the mother in the bottom!)) cider vinegar
2 Tbs. (or, my method: 2 large bloops out of the jug) of honey
2 tsp salt
2 heaping Tbs. pickling spice mix
Heat all of the above in a sauce pan to boiling.

Prepare (clean) jars: into each jar, place
3-4 black peppercorns
1 clove garlic -sliced

Equally distribute jalapeno/banana/red pepper slices in jars
Pour the hot brine over the ppeppers to 1/2" headspace, cover with sterile 2-part lids, and hot water bath for 10 minutes.

Let them mellow for a couple of weeks before eating - on a cracker with cream cheese, on a big bratwurst, scooped into scrambled eggs... oooh, pepper possibilities!

adapted: Joy of Pickling by Linda Ziedrich