Back online. Maybe for real!

Hi folks.

We had a nasty hack infecting the server this blog lives on.

I’m partway through cleanup — this blog is online again (let me know if parts are broken), but the herbwifery forum is proving harder to fix. I am working on it, when the toddler allows!

Thanks for your patience.

(Maybe this will get me blogging again, for real!)

Comments (40)

It’s what you do eat, not what you don’t.

So I don’t like the starvation mentality among health-conscious people: don’t eat this, don’t eat that, maybe eat a bit of that but not too much… There’s a lot of poison out there masquerading as food, it’s true, but if you take that approach too far, you’ll become a freaked-out, paranoid hermit.


Think about what you do eat more than you think about what you don’t eat. Do eat real food, plenty of it. Eat a lot of vegetables, more than you might think is reasonable: big piles at every meal. Eat bright and dark colored plants, lots of them. Eat the cleanest meat you can find, including grass-fed red meat. Eat all different parts of the animal, especially “organ meats.” (Yes, eat liver.) Eat fermented foods, all different kinds, as often as you can.

If you eat enough of those foods, you won’t have much room left for poison, and you’ll be better equipped to deal with the poison you do encounter. And you can’t avoid poison these days. You really can’t. (You do breathe, right?)

I’m not much of a video-watcher, but this talk from TEDxIowaCity gets to the point. Terry Wahls is inspiring: she came back from progressive MS, which is almost unheard of, and she’s a plainspoken doctor who knows what she’s talking about.

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When herbs went out of style.

“A sick man thinks himself effectually tended if he chance to make out that his doses contain Taraxacum, Belladonna, Aconite, Hyoscyamus, or Arneca, or if he be refreshed with Ammonia; but he smiles contemptuously at the herb woman who administers dent de lion, nightshade, wolfsbane, henbane, elecampane, or who burns horn in the sick chamber.”
—Oswald Cockayne, 1864 in Leechdoms, Wortcunning, and Starcraft of Early England.

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Lovely leftovers: pasties!


My great-great-great grandmother Mary Ann Hawkey was a tin-dresser in the Cornwall mines when she was a child. Her whole family worked in the mines, and as far as I can tell, their ancestors had been tin miners since anyone thought to write these things down.

The Cornish tin miners’ great culinary claim to fame is the pasty (pronounced like “past” as in “past tense”). It’s just a turnover, filled with meat and vegetables, easy to eat down in the mines.

Now, I’ll be branded a heretic for saying so, but you can fill a pasty with anything. Leftovers are perfect. And you can use any kind of dough to make a pasty — leftover bread dough, pie crust, whatever you like.

For these, I used some sourdough I had in the fridge, filled with leftover beef stew (cooked down a bit to reduce the liquid). Perfect lunch!

(Reminds me of another perfect, simple meal a few years ago.)

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The youngest herbwife.


Miss Jean Louise, our June baby. Keeping me busy and happy.

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Growing things.


So I’ve been busy lately.

Not a lot of energy for blogging (building a human is a bit tiring, apparently).

But I was inspired to go to a meeting of local folks interested in food and farming today. It was lovely to see so many different people ready to start new local food projects!

Maybe I will be motivated to blog, now that I’m about to have an infant to take care of. (I never claimed to make sense.)

Comments (44)

Victory: gluten-free bread with no weird gums in it.


Since so many people have trouble with gluten these days, I’ve been trying to learn about gluten-free baking. There are some good resources out there (Gluten Free Girl is great), but the recipes usually include things I don’t have in my kitchen, like xanthan gum and guar gum, and lots of obscure starches.

Gluten-free bread is supposed to be impossible without these slimy, gummy additives: they create the structure that allows the bread to rise. Hmmm. I know something else that’s real slimy. Why not try to use the slime in flax seed instead?

Today I made gluten-free bread with ingredients I already had around the kitchen. And it’s good! It tastes good! It looks like bread, it tastes like bread, it has no gluten in it, and it was easy to make.

Since it was my first try and I wasn’t really expecting it to work, I just made a small loaf and didn’t measure very well, but here’s the gist of what I did:

Whip up a few (I think it was two or three) leftover egg whites with two small eggs. Add about a half a cup of milk, some salt (maybe 1/2 tsp? maybe a bit more?), and a little dry yeast (again, maybe 1/2 tsp). Whip again.

Grind up about half a cup of flaxseeds in the blender. Whisk them into the egg-milk mixture. Let them sit for a few minutes to get nice and slimy.

In the meantime, grind up about the same amount of millet in the blender. Add it to the flax-egg-milk mixture. Let it sit for a few minutes to absorb.

Now mix in somewhere between 1/2 and 1 cup of tapioca flour. The dough should be wetter than a non-gluten bread dough, but it should be nice and sticky and stretchy from the eggs and flax.

Let it rise in a warmish place for, say, 45 minutes.

Put it in a small greased breadpan, muffin tin, or other baking dish, and let it rise for, oh, maybe half an hour.

Bake at 450 for about half an hour, or until it’s nice and brown and smells good and sounds hollow when you tap the bottom.

Happy new year!

Comments (216)

Read the fine print: who funded that study?

Whenever I hear about new medical research, I always ask one question first: who funded it?

Too often, reporters — even reporters for respected news sources like Reuters — don’t give us this essential information when they cover new studies.

Take, for example, the flurry of recent news items with titles like “Morning sickness linked to smarter babies” and “Study links morning sickness to higher IQ.” I found this kind of an intriguing idea, so I read the Reuters article. The article didn’t mention the study’s funder, but the very small size of the group they studied, and the fact that they also studied the safety of a drug for morning sickness, made me suspicious.

A quick visit to the website of the Journal of Pediatrics, the study’s publisher, showed me I was right: the fine print on the abstract indicated that the study was funded by the maker of the anti-nausea drug, and one of the study’s authors is a paid consultant for the company. Why, exactly, didn’t Reuters think this was worth mentioning?

The only article I found (on an admittedly cursory search) that brought up the obvious problems with the study was this one on the website

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Lymph love: skin brushing.

With all the cold-weather bugs flying around the northern hemisphere these days, it’s nice to take care of our overworked lymphatic systems.

Since the circulating lymph doesn’t have its own pump like the blood does, we need to help it along by moving around and stretching our muscles (walking and dancing are great lymph-movers).

You can also help stagnant lymphatic fluid get moving by vigorously brushing your skin. Now, you may find all kinds of complicated instructions for skin brushing around the interwebs, but it’s really not that hard. Just take something rough but not too irritating — like a dry loofah, a natural-bristle brush, or a coarse washcloth — and rub your skin vigorously, in little circles, from the ends of your body toward your heart.

It only takes a couple of minutes, and it feels really great. (For me, it can make a huge difference in my energy level, especially on cold, sluggish mornings.)

One thing: do it before you shower or bathe, not after. (Skin is usually a little too sensitive for vigorous rubbing after contact with hot water.)

Comments (30)

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