Welcome to The Pauley Principle!

The Pauli Principle, named for Wolfgang Pauli, deals with atoms and electron-sharing that results in new, stronger bonds. Think 2 parts hydrogen and 1 part oxygen, a shared delectable (!) electron and VOILA! Water!

Similarly, when you prepare whole food to share with family and friends, especially foods you've grown, something amazing happens. Meals become tastier and healthier. Your soul, not just your stomach, becomes fulfilled. You live life more abundantly as a result. During a shared meal, the bonds that people create grow stronger and become something new: GREATER than the sum of the parts! I give you The Pauley Principle.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Triple Play for Big Money, Shaky Game for Consumers

This week may be historic as a turning point for the American consumer. In the sports world in the U.S., today marks the opening of baseball season. Economically, the bases are loaded and many young adults may soon be hoping to make a home run--straight back to their parents' house, if that's an option.

None of us have witnessed an economic triple play like what we're about to face and there's no easy way to level the playing field. First base has the government in financial crisis with tax hikes and anti-union bills aimed at working people and time running out for the overtaxed poor. Second base has a rising unemployment rate with unemployment benefits running out for many people. Third base, rapidly increasing inflation.

While I shopped at Community Markets in Chillicothe this last week, a sign in the produce section caught my eye about anticipated changes. According to Community Markets, the consumer is to expect produce costs to jump since California and Mexico have both recently experienced the worst cold spell in over 50 years. Also, expect reduced quantities, reduced quality, and the absence of some produce. Then, just today, Bill Simon, chief business executive for Wal-Mart, announced that consumers should expect sharply inflated prices in food, clothing and other items over the next few months. Wal-Mart will be increasing their prices sharply and  immediately, the effects showing up in a few weeks as food, clothing and other items with older pricing leave the shelves. This is worth noting since both Community Markets and Wal-Mart pride themselves on their ability to hold prices down.

Inflation won't stop there. For example, if the cost of raw cotton is on the rise, that will likely add to the cost of clothing and other textiles across the board. Additionally, Japan has been a leading supplier of plywood but, with their recent series of disasters, the cost of building supplies can also be expected to jump considerably.

Hardest hit by this economic triple play will be young people, senior citizens on a fixed income, and the un- or under-employed, particularly when they have no safety net. I suggest anyone who can should do some fruit and vegetable gardening, plant heavily, and preserve and share your excess produce. Identify the people closest to you who are in need. Then reach out to others. Start community gardens where it's feasible.

Senior citizens can save 5% on Tuesdays at Community Markets. They won't tell you, and it might not be advertised, so speak up politely and ask for the senior citizen discount on Tuesdays. Everyone should clip coupons and use them. Also, online coupon sources can add to your savings. Consider donating a portion of your savings to food banks.

Don't give up. We're still in the game but we're reluctant participants in the historic reduction of the middle class and we're losing ground fast. Talk to, email, or write a letter to your representatives. Especially, talk to them about expecting the wealthy to share the tax burden. Let them know what you, your friends or family members are facing and what you're trying to do. Gather your team around you and stay in it to win! Good luck!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Caring for Tomato Seedlings

I encourage everyone to raise their own tomatoes, at least a few to supplement your meals. They are so much tastier than store-bought! Plus, you control what goes into them. After all, if harmful chemicals go into your tomatoes, they also go into you.

Tomatoes are easy to germinate but, during that period after germination and before planting outdoors, pay attention to your watering methods as well as light and temperature. My little plants were turning yellowish-white on the tips of their leaves and starting to curl. As careful as I had been to set up a grow light and control their temperature, I had been using our tap water for the little plants. After all, we drink it so it can't be that bad, can it?  Well, yes it can. Two of the chemicals in our tap water seem to be the culprits that were killing our little plants: chlorine and calcium chloride. Although lime is good for them, the chlorine/ides could ruin them. The solution for us: Catch rain water. Not as pure as distilled water, rain gathers nitrogen (great for tomatoes!) and other seemingly harmless elements from the air, actually filtering the air we breathe. On the other hand, if you live in a smog-ridden area or happen to be near a faulty nuclear power plant, rainwater may not be your best option.

Now onto another question: How to remove the chlorine and calcium chloride (that limy residue) from our tap water without breaking the bank--any suggestions?

Monday, March 28, 2011

Passion, Pasta, and Plenty of Pizazz!

Losing family members and friends and the tragedies of world events can be overwhelming. At times like this, it's important to pull family and friends together and just bond together while you make memories to warm you for a lifetime. To accomplish this, my husband and I recently hosted a dinner mystery for some of our family and friends.

Using one of the vintage dinner mystery kits, I carefully assigned roles in my invitations. Apparently, this didn't scare anyone away. The guests showed up in fabulous costumes and ready for lights, cameras and action! For this particular mystery we had a priest, a barmaid, an Italian businessman, a soccer player, a clairvoyant, a French winemaker, a young woman willing to take over the FAMILY business, and a widowed "godmother". Lines were scripted but left consider room for adlibbing~and the guests got surprisingly into character. Those without speaking parts, the children, took photos, provided some sound effects, and enjoyed the show until, frankly, the little ones chose something more active to do.

For this dinner, the setting was an Italian bistro. I made a paper sign for the bistro, brought in some patio furniture, and displayed vines and homemade wines to depict a winery.

This kind of entertaining is DIY at its finest. The guests were invited based on their willingness to ham it up, and ham it up they did! Well-chosen costumes, one in particular handmade that very day, and props added to the event, making it free and enjoyable live action, complete with the occasional mis-read and do-overs. Lots of laughs and good clean fun!  For dinner, the tomatoes were last summer's canned harvest. Some of the wine I offered was homemade. Guests showed up with additional wine, appetizers, and desserts while I supplied an endless salad bar, lasagna, and some home-baked bread.

All of us do charity work. Sometimes you just have to do something for yourselves, a special reward for the sharing and caring you do. The satisfaction of participating in this kind of event is indescribable! With handmade and imaginative costuming, homegrown or homemade food and drink, cost is minimal and the memories are priceless!


This recipe fills two large baking dishes, enough for a crowd.

For the beef marinara:
2 pounds very lean ground beef
2 T. olive oil
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp. sea salt
2 cups tomato sauce
1 quart of diced tomatoes
4 T. oregano
1 tsp. marjoram
1 cup water

Mix together the following ingredients for the cheese filling:
1 pound ricotta
4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup grated parmesan
2 eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp.  dried savory
1/2 tsp. dried parsley

1 1/2  pounds lasagna noodles, cooked to just pliable

Sprinkle the tops with:
2 cups shredded mozzarella
1/2 cup shredded parmesan
1 tsp. blended Italian seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In the olive oil gently brown the meat and crumble as it cooks. Add the garlic and salt and cook over low heat until garlic is tender. Add tomato sauce and oregano and bring to a simmer. Continue simmering being careful not to boil the sauce while you cook the lasagna and mix the cheese filling.

Oil the baking dishes, then layer the ingredients. Fill each dish to 1/2" from the top with added water. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 40 minutes or until cheese begins to brown.

Note: Because of dietary restrictions, I do not use onion or peppers in this recipe but love the flavor, texture and color they add. If you can use them, I suggest adding 1/2 finely chopped onion and 1 cup chopped green pepper, more or less to suit your taste,  when you add the garlic.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pleasantville Meets Farmville

The notion of sustainable living is catching on and many people are going beyond the tomato pot on the patio! Despite zoning regulations and city council grumblings, American people throughout the country and into the suburbs, from Boston to Minneapolis and far beyond the midwest, are stretching their arms, using their muscles, testing their freedom and independence, and discovering that chickens make great pets. They're easy to care for and, added benefit, they lay eggs! The craze is spreading so much that Chickiwiki is looking for contributing writers to keep up with demand. Check them out at http://raisingchickens.wetpaint.com/.

When I think of this, I am reminded of Foghorn Leghorn, that big lovable barnyard rooster of the cartoon era of days gone by. Not so, this new breed of farmers. The ones who want eggs can't get eggs from a rooster, and a rooster can upset the eggbasket in more ways than one! Instead, some are turning their backyards into a chicken run. That shed in the backyard may actually be a chicken coop. And an extra bathtub may be where they incubate their chicks!

Largely, this suburban farming is in response to the light shed on egg production by humane societies and chicken rescuers. Ironically, some chicken rescue farms become overloaded in autumn when people realize that chickens may not be that easy to care for and they have no way to protect their laying hens or banty rooster during the cold winter months.

I thought my husband had had enough of both eggs and chickens, having grown up on a 2500-chicken farm, where hens had reign over a full barn with a small barnlot to roam, minus good old Foghorn. No, just recently my husband decided a couple of dozen laying hens would take care of our growing family. He is now turning the farm back to the chickens, nonprofit this time. He's resurrected the old farming how-to books and compared them with the new-fangled internet sites that talk about chickens as pets, complete with names and accessories, and will soon be ready to start up his "chicken farm". 

Whether you've had chickens or an anecdote, please share with me and my other readers.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Sulfites in Food and Drink

While sulfites are naturally-occuring in some foods, sulfites are often added as a preservative during processing and can be found in a number of edibles and potables. This can be a dangerous additive for some people.

Beginning in the 1980's, the FDA requires that sulfites at a level of  >10 parts per million have to appear on the food label. When you read an ingredient label, sulfites can be listed as: sulfur dioxide, sodium sulfite, sodium bisulfite, potassium bisulfite, sodium metabisulfite or potassium bisulfite.

Sulfites prevent browning on fruits and vegetables and have been used in restaurants at salad bars. They are found in many processed foods:
*baked goods                          
*condiments such as horseradish, relish, pickles, olives, vinegar
*dried fruits, trail mix, shredded coconut, maraschino cherries
*juice, jams, and jellies
*shrimp, scallops, lobster, clams, crab
*gravy, soups, noodles, rice mixes
*potato chips, processed potatoes in all forms
*wine, wine coolers, beer, hard cider, cocktail mixes

I'm not necessarily a chemophobic (those having a "fear of chemicals"), but it's reported by Suite 101 that 1% of the population is sensitive to sulfites. Those who have asthma have a heightened sensitivity and could be at high risk. Reactions for most sensitive people can be breathing difficulties, chest tightness, dizziness, nausea, cramps, hives, wheezing.

However you slice it, this humble pie gives you just one more reason to grow your own fruits, veggies and, yes, especially grapes! If you are one of the sensitive ones, and you like an occasional glass of wine, consider making your own.

When it comes to sulfites, wine is a particular problem, especially grape wine. Nature gives sulfites to grapes. Winemakers in all countries, even home winemakers, use yeast which produces additional sulfites as the yeast interacts with the fruit. Additionally, winemakers all over the world add sulfites to finish the wine, as a preservative. This stops any further action in the wine.

In the U.S., wines with sulfites > 350 mg per liter are illegal and any U.S. wine with sulfites > 20 parts per liter must have a warning label. This standard is not world-wide.

Organic wines are made (1) without added sulfites and also (2) naturally occuring sulfites must be at < 20 parts per million. These organic wines last up to 18 months. Aww! If you make your own, yours can be organic and would probably pass the test. In order to produce a more organic wine, I have begun cleaning utensils with boiling water rather than a bisulfite solution and pouring boiling water over the fruit instead of cooler water with the addition of sulfites to kill impurities in the fruit. It's the way the old-timers did things and apparently it works!

Saturday, March 19, 2011

One of the Pleasures of Home Winemaking

Last night my husband and I sampled an ounce of our blackberry wine, not yet bottled but no longer bubbling in its airlock. I observed, took copious notes, and then turned to my husband to ask his opinion of the taste and whether it's time to bottle. We were both delighted with the flavor, warmth, color, aroma and complexity of this apparently simple wine. When you handle the fresh berries, either from cultivating your own or getting them from a local farmers' market, they become a part of you. Seeing the flaws of the wine may be difficult. The fact that grapes and berries turn into wine has its own mysticism. Any homemade wine has a kind of halo effect for me!

The timing surprises me. It's sooner than I thought this blackberry wine would be ready. Good wine, void of chemicals to speed the process, shouldn't be rushed. So, my plan is to head out someday soon with one bottle of wine, taken from the carboy before bottling the rest, to have a very honest but wine-loving friend give an unabashed reaction to this blackberry wine. I plan to post her comments which may be a few days away. The wine can wait with no damage to it. My husband and I both think it's ready. Will our friend? I know some of you would be willing to try it and give me your opinion as well. If so, let me know! I plan to keep on making wine for a long time and I love getting the opinions of others.

Friday, March 18, 2011

In Trying Times

When you're down, weary from fear, from pain and suffering of others or your own and you recognize human frailty, those times when you feel you have no control, trust.

Know that your physical body houses a spirit that will endure~it was designed to be that way. Practice age-old wisdom:
*Live simply and share what you can.
*Love generously and know that you are loved.
*Care deeply and find ways to lift up others.
*Speak kindly and let yourself be heard.
*Laugh often in the face of adversity to heal the wounded soul.

Give thanks continually for your ability to do any of these things. Be at peace with God, however you conceive Him to be, and keep peace with your soul. Live the best life you can. Sing your best song. Strive to be happy. Leave the rest to fate.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Irish Potato Salad

Chill for two hours after cooking before adding other ingredients (if you can wait):
4 medium potatoes, peeled, cubed, and steamed 15 minutes, and drained
4 hard-boiled eggs, peeled and whole

After cooling, chop the eggs. Add to well-drained potatoes. Then add the following ingredients and mix well:
1 cup chopped celery
3 tsp. mustard
1 tsp. dillweed, dried, or a little less if minced fresh
3/4 tsp. salt
4 T. mayonnaise
7 tsp. hot sauce

Spoon into serving bowl and top with:
2 green onion tops, chopped
2 T. bacon bits

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Country Boy Can Survive? He's not the only one.

Whether you're a man or a woman, here's a 10-step plan for the new year.

In pioneering days, the role of woman became elevated as her strength, wisdom and skills proved necessary for survival. To survive in the thirties and forties, for the duration of the Great Depression and beyond, women proved again the importance of their contributions to the household. Luckily, at that time, large numbers of people were rural. The working poor who had their gardens and often a few animals were somewhat inconvenienced by hard times while city dwellers starved unless they found ways to become self-reliant. Think "The Country Mouse and the City Mouse" where the role of "hard times" was played by the cat. The Country Mouse worked a little harder but survived without too much worry.

In response to hard times of the Great Depression, the government established some social safety nets not only to get people back to work but also to provide some sustenance to ward off starvation and homelessness.

Today, some of those programs no longer exist and others are losing funding. Today's young adults are roughing it in monumental ways, often the first to lose jobs in the current market downturn and unable to get financing or develop a support system for the things they need. Today, more than half of the young adults over twenty-five receive help from their parents, and many more need help, falling through the cracks of a flimsy safety net. The ones who can't make it sometimes turn to crime as their only means of survival. Politicians may seem out-of-touch or, worse, simply uncaring. As a result, the court system and prisons are overloaded and are now turning many criminals loose.

In scary times like this, many people, especially the young, want to live for the immediate pleasures of today (drugs, alcohol, and other forms of escape) since they feel no promise of a tomorrow. For most of us, there will be a tomorrow. Plan for it. When times are this tough, we need to make every dollar count toward necessities of life: food, clothing, shelter, transportation, LOVE AND LAUGHTER. Yes, I said love and laughter. They help sustain us during hard times. I believe the nation's economic woes will improve when we  take steps that begin at home.

Therefore, in a pioneering spirit then, I offer a list of 10 things we can do today to assure we live abundantly tomorrow:

1. Look hard at the difference between spending and investing. Spent money may leave us with memories but the money is gone, like a wild goose in winter. Worse, unlike the goose, it's not coming back. Invested money brings money back in the form of savings, income or value added. Think of anything that depreciates in value as spent money. That includes most cars and mobile homes, fancy electronics, clothing fads and, yes, even rent. When it's gone, it's gone. Investing, on the other hand, has the potential for increasing in value or bringing more money into the home. (See number 3.)

2. Plan to make every spent dollar count. While the memories may warm you when times are rough, you don't want to be the grasshopper who plays while the ants are storing away food~eventually the grasshopper has none. Put off spending and playing. Instead, go for some deferred gratification. Picture what you want. Eventually you can make that home, or degree or dream vacation come true or get that "thing" that's now out of reach. And you'll be able to do it without putting your livelihood at risk. In the meantime, be happy deep in the very core of who you are. You yourself have value, more than anything than you could buy.

3. Instead of spending, INVEST. Place discretionary money in investments close to home where you see its benefit and can convert it to cash if needed. Invest in yourself with time, maybe money, to learn new skills, new ideas or to do new things. Your knowledge and skills could become indispensable to you or someone you know.

4. If you don't already have it, consider buying or renting a small piece of land or join a gardening partnership so that you can grow and share your own fruits and veggies. This money falls on the investment side since has potential to save you money.

5. Clip coupons for groceries with a plan to save at least 20% over retail every time you shop. This is a much better payback than most savings plans or investments offered by banks.

6. When you shop, avoid highly processed foods and fancy packaging, non-nutritional snack foods and candy. Stick to the outside perimeter of the store where the most essential foods are generally found, those with the least processing and packaging (produce, meats and dairy). Eat whole farm-fresh foods more than highly processed food products. But even with food, really good food, remember to practice moderation in all things. An occasional candy bar is good for the soul!

7. Learn to preserve foods and find ways to organize them. Home canning is wonderful for some things, and a vacuum sealer really does well to protect foods for the freezer. After you preserve the foods, plan to have at least one food a day from your stash. That will bring down your grocery bill.

8. Eat more fruits and vegetables than meat. A good rule of thumb is 1/4 of the plate for meat, 3/4 for the rest (fruits, vegetables and bread).

9. Supplement your diet with rice, beans and nuts. By doing this, while you reduce the amount of  meat, you will still be enjoying much-needed usable protein at a lower cost.

10. Take really good care of yourself, starting with what you eat. Then learn to control how you think. Start taking greater care of others. Share and barter. You may be able to fill the gap for others, and likewise. The notion comes from the Pauli Exclusion Principle, a physics term for electron-sharing. While each element is unique, something greater than the sum of the parts is created when sharing occurs between elements. They bond! Think chemistry. That's what The Pauley Principle is: scientific notions applied to humans. The result? When we share what we have in order to fill the gaps for others, we all gain from the experience and are transformed.

In summary, my pioneering friend, value who you are! You are unique and you have a right to be here. You are part of a movement in inventing a new reality. There's adventure in that.  Develop a support system by gathering up those friends and family members who are also positive and like-minded. Believe in the higher power. Feel the strength that comes from sharing your laughter, faith, experiences, skills, and your own harvest.        
Live your life abundantly.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Reinventing the Potato Patch

Thinking you don't have room for potatoes? Think again! Look around. Shopping malls are beginning to use Oriental sweet potatoes in their landscaping and in their potted flowers at street corners. The vine is very pretty and spreads rapidly. Underneath that beautiful, soft, light-green foliage is a collection of tubers that have white flesh, sweet, smooth and succulent when cooked, making it great for baking or boiling. I enjoy the addition of maple syrup to this potato.

The Pauley potato patch generally contains four kinds of potatoes: Russet, Kinnebec, Pontiac red, and one or more varieties of sweet potato. Each type of potato seems to excel at some preparation and the Kinnebec seems to be suitable for all. Red potatoes, especially when very young, are great mixed in with peas or green beans or roasted. The Russet holds its shape well and won't fall apart so easily in soup. Yukon Gold is said to be a terrific French Fry potato. All have great flavor.

Consider where you might plant potatoes: garden, flowerbeds, an upset wheelbarrow, large hanging baskets and patio pots. Potatoes need good drainage and direct sunlight. Mixed with marigolds, you can cut down on insect invasion. Water them regularly. One vine can yield several pounds of fresh-tasting organic potatoes for minimal investment.

When to plant? The farmers of long ago would say to plant potatoes on Good Friday. Apparently the moon is right for root vegetables at that time.

Enjoy your own potato patch in whatever form you choose to give it. This is just one more way to live your life abundantly!

Friday, March 11, 2011

Farm Fresh Produce Without the Work?

It's true! Well, partially. It's a matter of who does the labor. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) might provide the gardening option you want if you prefer fresh, local produce, but have no land and farming tools, can't form a gardening co-op with family or friends, or perhaps have a debilitating illness or you have more money than time. Unlike the local farmer's market, the CSA allows you to actually invest in the farming. You may be given opportunities to suggest and impact what is grown.

Typically, here's how a CSA, such as Johnson Farms at Wilmington, works. A farmer offers shares to the general public. You purchase a share or a membership from the CSA. A share consists of a box of produce. A membership would provide you with a box of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season. A variation of this is the market-style CSA membership plan that allows you to pick and choose what goes into your box. Some CSAs have additional offerings such as eggs, poultry, bread, cheese, fruits and flowers. Many CSAs have an agreement with food banks and donate excess foods.

Advantages to membership are:
*Eat ultra-fresh locally-grown food, higher in nutrients and flavor than the produce grocery stores can offer, and it's likely to be organically grown.
*Expose your palate to varieties and new methods of preparation.
*Receive invitations and opportunities to visit/tour the farm.
*Have fruits and veggies from "your farm", something children and adults both enjoy.
*Build a trusting relationship with the farmer who grows your food.
*You don't have to spend time out in a garden and get all sweaty and dirty.
*You avoid overhead costs such as the investment in tools and land.

As with all good ventures, there are risks involved. For example, it could be a bad weather year for growing corn and that would directly impact what goes into your box.

If this might work for you, check it out, looking at both the advantages for you and the disadvantages. You may find this gives you and your family a connection to the land, so good for the soul, that you could not otherwise have. You may also find the foods on your table to be more flavorful and nutritious. I urge you, in one way or another, to connect with the land and live your life abundantly!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why Grow Grapes?

For anyone who can manage it, I recommend a grape trellis. Here's why:

My husband had an awful bout with cancer a few years ago. Prognosis: Stage 3 in two systems, 2 months to live. During his chemo treatments there were only three things he could manage to keep on his stomach or even swallow: a tiny bit of steak, a couple bites of ice cream and grape juice. He craved just those foods but could only manage small amounts.

While he was in the hospital, repeatedly over several months, he kept thinking/dreaming about planting a little vineyard. It became like, hmmm...well, a spiritual mission of his! He realized the foods he craved and could eat helped him survive. Many prayers were made on his behalf. He had a strong sense that God brought all the technology, knowledgeable and helpful medical staff, food, me-- everything--together! Chris is strong and well now. And our grapes provide us with grape juice and wine that we enjoy regularly, in moderation.

Grapes provide our bodies with tremendously powerful nutrients: Vitamins C & K, the minerals copper and potassium, and phytosterols. Think FIGHT! These nutrients help our bodies fight not only free radicals but, also, cholesterol in our bloodstream. And they help our bodies heal.

Grapes on a trellis offer a bit of old-world charm to an entry way. If this isn't possible where you live, consider planting on the shares with someone. The aesthetics and rhythm of a grapevine's beauty in the changing seasons is good for our very souls. And for our bodies, a few grapevines can provide several containers of pure delectable grape juice!

Monday, March 7, 2011

Racking in the Winery!

A full book of winemaking can still leave several unanswered questions. Therefore, I can't offer in the confines of a blog a recipe for making wine but I can relate my experience. Last summer, while I was up to my elbows in tomatoes, Chris (bless his heart) brought me over 20 pounds of freshly picked blackberries. Because I was too busy to work with them at the time, I cleaned and froze the luscious berries and thought happily about what I would do with them.

Being the schoolie that I am, freezing them gave me time to study about winemaking with blackberries. I had heard that it was harder than making grape wine. I've known people who just put blackberries, sugar and water into a crock, covered it and left it until it stopped working. Looking for something more scientific, a wine that would be semi-sweet and full-bodied as well as safe to drink, I studied C.J.J. Berry's book First Steps in Winemaking since God had blessed me not only with the berries but, also, the gift of time to let a bottle of wine finish properly. I studied others who thought wine was only made from grapes. I also studied E.C. Krauss for a basic online guide that can be downloaded. To make this wine, I blended ideas from both Berry and Kraus.

I recently went to the winery. Like every time before, I took meticulous notes(remember the schoolie in me) and can tell you that I started the wine with boiled water poured over the blackberries to purify the fruit and utensils, hoping not to use chemical additives, chemicals found in Campden tablets such as sodium metabisulfite. Pectic enzyme was added. It is safe and increases the release of juice from the berries. I wanted a pure product and have grown increasingly concerned about the array of chemical additives that may be found, only after deep searching, in mass-marketed wine. Many of these additives are uncontrolled and are used in an effort to speed up production and increase profits, not to give you a better wine experience, although it might taste good. There I go again. I'm a big DIYer! I believe you can make better wine at home. After the first day, I added winemaking yeast. A few days later, I strained the juice onto sugar.

Six weeks into my blackberry winemaking project now, I have racked the wine into carboys for the second time. Racking takes the wine off the sediment caused by yeast action and results in a clearer wine. Time filters out suspended particles. You don't need chemicals to do this. You don't need a winery, a basement or a cellar to make wine. You can easily use a hallway or the kitchen counter. Scroll down through the sidebar for items you may need to make wine.

Each time I rack this wine, I record my observations as to color, clarity, aroma, legs (or viscosity) and flavor in my attempt to reach the perfect balance in a semi-sweet, medium bodied wine. I also use a winemaking hydrometer that indicates the sugar/alcohol content. My readings of winemakers tell me that a thicker, sweeter wine is preferred by those who don't know wine. HA! OK, I believe that. My observations of wineMAKING tell me that, if you make your own, you can have whatever suits you, and for pennies on the dollar! I will continue this racking and observing process until all the CO2 escapes and the flavor and feel of the wine suits me. The water in the airlock has to remain perfectly still, no more bubbling. This may take many months but, judging from my experience in the winery yesterday, I don't think so! Everything in its own time.

Winemaking is a fun hobby! A delicious hobby! But not for everyone. Sorry I can't give you a recipe for wine but, like teaching a child to read, you can't explain how to do it in just a post! Bon appetit!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Mixed Greens and Strawberry Salad with Maple-Walnut Vinaigrette

This recipe will make one large dinner salad or two to four side salads. For a dinner salad, consider adding diced grilled chicken or crumbled bacon and a boiled egg.

2 T. olive oil
1/2 cup walnuts
2 T. apple cider vinegar
2 T. maple syrup
3 cups mixed leafy greens or lettuce
1/2 avocado, cubed
6 strawberries, halved

Lightly brown walnuts in the olive oil over low hear. Remove walnuts and turn off the heat. Salt.
Whisk in the vinegar and maple syrup quickly. Spoon 1/3 of this dressing onto the serving platter. Then stir the walnuts into the remaining dressing just enough to coat them.
Arrange lettuce or mixed leafy greens onto the platter. Place the cubed avocado in the center. Then arrange the strawberry halves. Spoon the remaining maple-walnut vinaigrette over the salad.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Ohio's Senate and S.B.5, Defeated with Issue 2 on Election Day!!!

S.B. 5, with its union-busting intent, passed the Ohio State Senate.
The way in which the votes were counted is questionable as the senate committees were suddenly rearranged to get the necessary majority vote.

I asked someone, "What if there was an organized state-wide strike?"

The answer, "They can't. That would be illegal."

Oh? And what the Ohio State Senate did was not illegal? Someone explain that to me.

I've urged my readers that they can live more abundantly through planning and working for themselves in their own spare time. With the passing of Senate Bill 5 and its eventual law signed into play, working harder will become a necessity, not an option. Those "leaders" who want to appease big money corporations over the people they serve are not living by the Pauley Principle or any other principle other than greed and power, further pushing us into a modern day feudal system.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Top Foods for Energy

The sidebar link is to Richard Todd's article in which Sarah Gaspari of Whole Foods Market in Cincinnati tells her favorite foods for energy. Not surprisingly, fruits and vegetables, particularly leafy greens, top the list! A HUGE thanks to my daughter Jessi for the referral!

The article comes at a great time. Sunshine streaming in through windows reminds me that my coldframe for leafy greens waits for tending, to prepare it for sewing mixed lettuce and kale seeds. Mine is a 4' X 8' frame with rich, loose soil that I'll mix with some vegetable compost. Like lettuce, kale doesn't mind chilly nights as long as the seeds get enough warmth to generate. With strong sunshine, warmer days, adequate water and a glass lid, the soil will retain enough heat to yield plenty of greens before I can begin regular gardening.Suddenly, I'm thinking Mixed Greens and Strawberries with Maple-Walnut Vinaigrette.

The rest of Ms. Gaspari's list of top energy foods reportedly includes fresh ground peanut butter, oatmeal with maple syrup, lean meats, soft cheeses, yogurt, eggs and seeds. So eat well and get an energy boost because you're gonna need it!

Whether you have land or not, remember the benefits of co-op gardening and consider planting with a friend or relative, co-oping with veggies, berries, grapes and fruit trees to share. Happy gardening!!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

We Really REALLY Like Salsa

A month ago I thought I'd used up all of the canned salsa I had put up but just yesterday, as I was inventorying my canning jars, I found a box of, not just jars, jars with salsa from last summer's garden! Yes, 100% pure YUM!!! And I won't even get into the nutrition factor with all the anti-oxidents salsa has. As the title says, we like our salsa. Really.

Now my mouth waters as I look at my seedling tomatoes for this year and think about their promise of more salsa. Granted, I planted early. In years past I had to so that I'd have time to re-seed. Germination, however, has been excellent this year since I took over my basement to make a mad scientist's laboratory. I've discovered that the addition of a grow light is paying off with tall and very leafy plants. So tall, as Chris pointed out, that we're going to have a little problem. It will be a long time before our weather and the cold, saturated soil will allow me to get them outside. And, as they continue to grow, when I start to put them in the hotbed as a little nursery for conditioning to the elements, I may need to add on and build up the sides of the frame! The abundant growth is a side effect of improved sprouting conditions that I hadn't considered!

In early March, there's still plenty of time to start tomato seedlings inside. I rushed the season but how could I help it? We really REALLY like salsa. If you like salsa, try my recipe. Adjust it to taste and dig in!!!

Tomato Salsa, spicy but good enough to drink!

8 cups or more of tomatoes, Roma or a mix of different varieties, chopped
1 cup of cauliflower, finely chopped
1 cup of onions, chopped
1/2 cup of carrots, finely chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
Several sprigs of fresh cilantro, snipped
3-4 green onion tops, snipped
4 hot peppers, about 3/4 cup, mixed jalapeno and chili, finely chopped
1/3 cup sugar
2 T. balsamic vinegar
2 T. apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup olive oil
3 T. salt

Chop by hand if possible and mix together. Serve fresh with chips or on a Mexican salad. Use within two weeks. You can also make multiple batches and can. Roma tomatoes are meaty, less juicy than some, but other tomatoes may have the flavor you want.