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DSC07533watermarkThe first time I saw hibiscus tea, I was in a small take away restaurant called Super Taqueria in San Jose California. The drink was in one of those big clear plastic containers on the counter where the contents are aerated. I was out of my comfort zone just walking into the place and ordering a super taco with no avocado (the list of things I wouldn’t eat was still pretty long at 19). Most of the signage was in Spanish. I had no idea what jamiaca aguas fresca was, and I certainly wasn’t brave enough to find out. (Super Taqueria is still in business by the way, and if it is still the same as it was 29 years ago, I highly recommend it! Best carne asada tacos anywhere.) Read the rest of this entry »

ThreeFaceSoaps

For those of you who aren’t soap makers, my apologies for this long post. But I’ve included some pretty pictures of soap to look at, in lieu of cute animal pictures.

Note: Edited April 2018 to add a couple of new links and fix a few typos. I’ve been making my own soap since 2005. In 2011 I started to sell soap at farmer’s markets. I belong or have belonged to several soap making forums that field a lot of questions from people who are new to soap making. After the gateway skills of learning to bake bread, make your own yogurt, and make your own granola, homemade soap is often the next step in your homesteading evolution. Know what goes into your soap and onto your body? Check. Avoid ingredients that you don’t understand and can’t pronounce? Check. Make a product you can feel good about your family using? Check. Make products to help with skin issues? Check. Make inexpensive gifts for friends and family? Check. Use up all of that lard/tallow from your wild harvested deer or elk or bear, or your own butchered goat or cow or pig? Check. Read the rest of this entry »

Alternative title: Come The Revolution.

JaponicaCorn

Flour corn. Grown as an ornamental. But useful as a food, for both humans and poultry, should it come to that.

True confession time. I feel like I know you all well enough that I can come clean and you won’t judge me too harshly. That you won’t think I’m totally nuts after you read this. That maybe you’ll admit to your own closet “come the revolution” thoughts. And then I’ll show you pictures of my new bunker. Just kidding. If I had a bunker, I wouldn’t tell you. Wink. Read the rest of this entry »

PowerBallBalls

In retrospect, perhaps these should be renamed “rabbit pellets”. They may not be the most appetizing thing to look at, but trust me, they taste great.

Years ago, I had a subscription to Saveur magazine. I love to travel and I love to cook, and I thought a magazine that combined the two would be great. Alas, while the travel stories were inspiring, the recipes just weren’t a good fit for me. A bit too haute cuisine and hard to find ingredients for how I tend to cook. During a one year subscription, I made one and only one recipe, for Sugar Plums. Read the rest of this entry »

Wait, there was a Soap Making 101 post?

ChristmasForestSoapNo, there wasn’t. (Actually, now there is. I wrote it AFTER I wrote this post).  There are LOTS of great resources on the web to learn how to make soap. I learned primarily from the Miller’s Homemade Soap pages. It’s a clunky website, compared to how sites are put together now, and is not regularly updated anymore, but it’s still a great resource. I also highly recommend the About.com info on soap making, and tons of great resources on SoapQueenTV  put together by Brambleberry, a soapmaking supplier that I’ve been ordering from for years. Read the rest of this entry »

MuesliBowlIn my quest to eat healthier in January, I’ve been avoiding added sugar. This means that my several times a week fruit, plain yogurt and granola habit has been tabled of late. Then I ran across this recipe for Hazelnut Cherry Muesli. I’d been collecting muesli recipes for a while, but had never gotten around to trying one out. This one seemed like a great place to start.

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Confession. I am not an athlete. I’m actually not much of an exerciser, period. I was a small kid. My family moved around a lot (six moves, 5 states by the time I was in 6th grade). I’m an only child and my early socialization was primarily with adults. My first experience with kick ball, in 1st grade, felt like being dropped into another country without a passport. I was weak, had no control over the ball, and wasn’t very fast. I NEVER made it to 1st base. It was humiliating.

And that pretty much sums up my experience with all group or school sanctioned sports right through high school. I always seemed to miss the part where they actually taught you how to play the sport, and everyone was new to it and kind of sucked. Yup, I was the stereotypical “last kid picked for the team” over and over.

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Part 101 here
Part 201 here
Part 301 here
Part 401 here

Nutrition Buzz Words and What You Need to Know

Omega 3’s and Omega 6’s.
You’ve heard about them. They seem to be mentioned everywhere. Omega 3’s and 6’s are simply essential fatty acids (remember, that means the body can’t make them itself) involved in the body’s ability to synthesize hormones.  Sources of omega-6 fatty acids are numerous. Soybean oil alone (um…that would be big ag) is now so ubiquitous in fast foods and processed foods that it is estimated that 20 percent of the calories in the American diet come from this single source.

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Part 101 here
Part 201 here
Part 301 here

Learn to Try New Things

One of the best things about going on a diet is that you get bored. Yup, boredom. Because when you are bored, you’ll try new things just for the novelty. Lets face it. We get into ruts. We eat the same 15 meals week in and week out because we are 1) pressed for time or imagination 2) don’t know how to cook anything else or 3) don’t want to try anything new. It’s an evolutionary advantage to eat the same things all the time. That red berry on that bush? It might be great. It might just kill us. Best to just stick with what we already know. We’re inherently creatures of habit.

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For 101, click here. For 201 click here.

It seems to me that we humans fall into several categories when it comes to food. There is the simple “I live to eat” vs ” I eat to live” category. I’m clearly in the “live to eat” camp. Food is a great pleasure in life, and I probably spend more time than the average person thinking about it (how it’s made, where it comes from, how it’s processed, how much it costs, how healthy is it, and can I grow it or make it myself, just to start). I know there are people who simply see food as fuel for their bodies, and don’t really give it much thought after that (like about 80% of all teenage boys I have met).

And then there are the Justifiers and the Controllers.  The Justifiers: “I want to eat what I want when I want it in any quantity, and I will go to great lengths to defend this behavior. Red wine contains antioxidants… why yes, I’ll have another glass. And could you please poach that chicken in butter, because butter adds so much flavor!” The Controllers: “the world is a scary and chaotic place. I need to set boundaries about what goes into my mouth, because at least I can have control over that. So I’ll have a vegan raw cookie, please, with a shot of wheat grass juice on the side.”

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Jennifer Kleffner

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