Whole30-Timeline-COLOR-SmallerUp until my early 30s, I weighed a ridiculous 105 lbs and could eat pretty much anything I wanted and not gain weight. I was on the low end of normal for the standard body mass index chart. Yeah. It wasn’t fair. But it was kind of awesome.

As I aged (and learned to cook) my weight slowly climbed. By my mid to late 30’s, I’d hit the 120-125  range (really about right for my 5’3″ small boned frame). And by my early 40’s I was between 125 and 130 pretty consistently, with occasional bouts of South Beach dieting or 3 day Detox smoothie resets to reign in the weight gain.

I’ve long had an interest in local food systems and health, and so our diet (I do most of the cooking) has shifted to more and more from-scratch cooking and less and less processed foods over the years, including knowing where our meat comes from. No longer do I look forward to making the Pillsbury pop-n-fresh Cinnamon Rolls on Sunday mornings like I did in my early 20’s. You won’t find boxed mac & cheese in our cupboards or frozen hot pockets in our freezer or fast food wrappers in the car. I literally can’t remember the last time I drank a full sugar soda. So compared to the average American diet, we really were eating pretty “clean” and had been for a very long time.

But this year, my weight hit 135. 135! I’m now officially just a few pounds from officially being overweight. With menopause kicking in full steam, I could no longer ignore the numbers on the scale or the paunch around my middle, despite our generally healthy diet and decent level of activity. And I could definitely not just eat whatever I wanted and not gain weight. My body seemed to hang on to every bread calorie like it might not ever see food again. Read the rest of this entry »

JenHairAug2011

This is my hair in August 2011. Probably the longest it had been in years. There’s probably some off the shelf semi-permanent hair color in there. I can’t remember. The gray is starting to show just a touch.

When I learned to make soap, a whole world of natural DIY products opened up for me. If I can master the chemistry of making soap, what ELSE can I make? Lotion? Toothpaste? Natural Deodorant? Shower Gel? Sugar Scrubs? Lip Balm? The list was almost endless, and I’ve tried a LOT of things. Some of which I continue to make, and sell, and some of which I don’t.

One of the products I no longer make is a true soap shampoo bar. Why you may ask? Isn’t more natural always better? In this case, no. Read the rest of this entry »

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First harvest from my own Apricot trees EVER!

We were in full on summer here. June strawberries are long gone, cherries are just finishing up, apricots and raspberries are ripe, and the first nectarines and peaches are starting to appear at farmers markets. If you happen to have fruit trees, now is the time you start stuffing fruit into jars and freezer bags in an effort to deal with the deluge of fruit sitting on your kitchen counter right now.

But you can only eat so much jam and make so many smoothies. Yes, pies and buckles and crumbles and crisps are nice, but may not be where your diet is at right now. Alternatives?

Shrubs and Liqueurs! Read the rest of this entry »

IMG_20180627_153036066watermarkBeets, as a vegetable, are a challenge for me. In my quest to overcome my various childhood vegetable phobias, I’ve made it a point to have a go-to recipe for each vegetable, that makes them not just tolerable, but something that I really enjoy. But earthy beets, the poster child for vegetable terroir (which translates loosely to “of the earth”)? Well, I’m still in search of that go-to recipe. I’ve roasted them. I’ve boiled or steamed them. I’ve spiraled and shredded them raw. I’ve turned them into fritters and borscht. I’m most likely to turn them into a beet salad, married with other strong flavors such as onion, garlic, orange, sharp vinegar, a spicy fruity olive oil, feta cheese and nuts.

But my favorite way to eat beets, my go-to recipe, is pickled. Not just normal picked, but with added onion, mustard and warm baking spices. I LOVE them tossed into a dinner salad, including the bright red pickled onions also in the jar. Read the rest of this entry »

Basket of farm fresh eggs

REAL farm fresh eggs.

Recently, a customer asked me, “Do I need to refrigerate your eggs”? This question comes up every once in a while on Facebook or in other places, so I thought I’d write up a more formal answer and my thoughts on this. You may have run across one of the many articles on this subject (just type in US vs European egg refrigeration), which are often slanted to give you the impression that “in the US, we’re doing it all wrong”, and then wondered, but what about local eggs? Read the rest of this entry »

Sprouting Onions

When the inevitable happens and your storage onions sprout

Onions are cheap in the grocery store. And according to the Environmental Working Group’s annual list of the Dirty Dozen and Clean 15, they have very little pesticide residue, even when you don’t buy organic.

So why do I love growing my own onions? It’s hard to say exactly. But they are such a staple. They are used as the base in about a gazillion recipes, either as Mirepoix (2 part onion, 1 part celery, 1 part carrot) or the Holy Trinity in Cajun/Creole cooking (equal parts onions, celery and green bell pepper), or Sofrito in Spanish heritage cooking (onions, garlic, and…well, it depends on the region, but often tomato and peppers). Having a larder of winter storage onions at the end of the harvest season just makes me feel like no matter what the world throws at me, at least I can feed myself well, and inexpensively, if I have onions to start with. Read the rest of this entry »

Close up of Ground Ivy Flower

Ground Ivy, aka Creeping Charlie, Glechoma hederacea.

So a few days ago, I was wandering around in the yard, enjoying spring unfolding, and suddenly noticed this low growing plant with small blue flowers growing under and around one of our backyard willow trees. The area had a bee hive on it last year, and whatever the plant was, I had never noticed it before. Perhaps it come in on the bottom of the hive? Or maybe it just had a really good year last year and I was finally paying attention. Read the rest of this entry »

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18 lambs and counting…we have one ewe who hasn’t given birth

We try hard to not have our lambs until the weather warms up a bit here in Walla Walla. We don’t really have an enclosed barn for our ewes, just a few open ended horse stalls. And the ewes don’t want to be in a horse stall anyway. They want to be out in the far end of the field when they give birth. And catching ONE ewe right before she gives birth is nigh impossible on our farm. We want them to have as natural an experience as possible, keeping ourselves out of the picture and letting nature lead the way. But that means NOT having babies in January, when there is snow on the ground. Read the rest of this entry »

InstantPotDuo60

Six Quart Instant Pot Duo © Instant Pot

My husband bought me a six quart Instant Pot Duo60 for my birthday about a year ago, when it went on sale on Amazon. I’d started to see comments on them from fellow foodies, and I thought – slow cooker and pressure cooker and rice cooker? Sounds great! (Current number of reviews on Amazon: 26,925 with a 4 1/2 out of 5 star rating). This appliance is REALLY trendy right now. Whenever I mention I have one, I get asked about it. Read the rest of this entry »

ClayTestAllSamplesSome people exclusively use essential oils to scent their soaps. I don’t, for a couple of reasons. 1) They are medicinally active and you really need to know what you are doing to use them safely (see this post for more on essential oil safety). 2) They tend to be quite a bit more expensive than fragrance oils and your options are limited by price and availability (there just isn’t an essential oil that smells like coconut or pears, for instance). 3) Often times, the scent tends to fade rather quickly in your bar. That grapefruit essential oil soap that smelled amazing when you cut it six weeks ago? Three months in it now smells like, well, soap. I DO have several all essential oil soap offerings though (Lavender-Lemon, Fresh Lemon, Rosemary Mint and Peppermint, and occasional seasonal mixes like Orange-Patchouli), and am always looking for new combinations to try that won’t break the bank and will hold up over time.

When the “how do I get essential oils to stick in my soap” question comes up in soap making groups, the answer from the soaping brain trust is almost always “use clay to anchor the scent”. I’ve seen it repeated over and over and over in the last 8 years. And so I started asking, has anyone ever done a side by side comparison with and without clay? And the answer was almost always no, or an anecdotal “I can tell the difference”. Read the rest of this entry »

Jennifer Kleffner

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