Maple Apple Bourbon Sauce

One of the things I wanted to do with this blog is share recipes, both my own and those I find.  This is one I created a couple years ago when I needed a sauce for pork chops.  It’s quick, easy and so tasty…enjoy!

 

1/4 c. apple butter

1 tbsp. dijon mustard

3-4 tbsp. REAL maple syrup

2-3 tbsp. bourbon/whisky    (any you like will work…I plan to try apple pie moonshine next time I make it)

garlic & pepper, to taste  (small dashes work well for us…just enough!)

 

Combine ingredients and stir together.  Add to chicken or pork, either before or after cooking.  Yields us enough for a 4-person meal (4-6 chops or so)…increase as needed.

Hocking Hills – To Log Or To Preserve?

In something of a follow-up to my post about The Wayne being in danger of fracking leases, I am now posting an alert to a danger in the Hocking Hills area.

Hocking Hills is a popular tourist destination, and a total gem to locals.  There is so much here – history, natural beauty, activities such as camping and hiking, and great food culture too.  Unfortunately, some see all that amazing and immediate think it’s something to tear up for profit.

An area of the Hills known as the Spruce Run watershed is under consideration for logging.  This section, near Conkle’s Hollow, is home to rare Hemlocks and boasts gorgeous rock formations.

Luckily, instead of running full steam ahead, the ODF (Ohio Division of Forestry) is also considering preserving it and wants to hear from the public about it.  Comments will be accepted through the end of September.  Together, we can help preserve a natural treasure and keep it recognizable for future generations.

Honoring Appalachia’s Granny Tradition

Even in Appalachia, the term ‘Granny Women’ is one most folks don’t hear (or use) anymore.  It’s become obscured by the hectic pace of modern culture, and hidden under the overgrowth of history.  Its practicality has devolved into superstition.  Its relevance, now considered obsolete.  Luckily, the phrase, and the knowledge that comes with it, is making a comeback.

The Granny Women were the ones who answered the call for healing in their communities.  Doctors were not always available, and many preferred their local healers anyway.  They knew the herbs their mountain provided and where to find them.  They knew what ailments the plants treated, how to extract the medicine from them, and which formulations worked best.  Their midwifery skills saved the lives of countless babies and mothers.

They were known for having extraordinary gifts, from “blowing away” pain to forecasting the future.  They were revered for their dedication to their communities and their accuracy in practicing their craft.  They did not charge for their services, giving unselfishly of their time and energy.  However, grateful families often gifted them things, such as food and handmade goods.

Fortunately, this crucial skillset survived the decades that attempted to leave it forgotten on the shelf of history.  In fact, it is being rediscovered and even gaining credibility through science.  We now know how willow bark helps with pain.  We know about the synergy of plants and that it makes a better medicine than isolating just one plant compound.  It is not snake oil selling.  It is tradition in action.

wild apocathary
(a wild apothecary I envy,  photo from Joan on Flikr)

Now, don’t let the Granny reference fool you.  The gift does not discriminate whom is worthy of wielding it.  Young and old, male and female…doesn’t matter.  Often, it travels through families.  Sometimes, it’s taught by another healer.  One thread runs through them all: Faith, and a lot of it.  God speaks and works through them, and they don’t question it.

While they traditionally identify as Christian, often referencing God/Jesus and using bible verses, their work could easily be called witchcraft by suspicious, jealous, or self-righteous folks.  Their magic consists of ancient knowledge passed down from their Scots-Irish ancestors and the Natives they encountered, and they make practical use of it.  They know there is nothing evil or wrong with what they do.  They have a gift and are simply answering the call to use it.

Are you familiar with the term “Granny Magic”?  Do you, or someone you know, practice it?

A Mansfield, MO Charmer

I found this lovely old house charming even before I realized why Mansfield, MO sounded so familiar to me.  Mansfield is where Laura Ingalls Wilder and her husband, Almanzo, settled.

For those who don’t know, she wrote The Little House series (affiliate link), which inspired a TV show in the ’70s.  I watched the re-runs as a kid (and again as an adult), but didn’t read the books until this past summer.  They’re written in a way that’s easy for kids to read but detailed enough to hold an adult’s interest.  In addition to guiding my mind back to a time my ancestors would have recognized, those pages demonstrated a few good homesteading methods.  🙂

This house is said to be a similar style to the one Almanzo and Laura built on their Missouri Ozarks homestead (compare).  As usual, when I see old houses, I find myself wanting to back-date the decor.  The home has good bones, though, and is adorable in any case.  And the setting…well, it’s tough to beat!  Click the image for more pictures of this lovely property.

Wayne National Forest: Still Not Safe

Wayne National Forest, or “The Wayne” as it’s called locally, is Ohio’s only national forest.  It covers over 240,000 acres of southeastern Ohio’s Appalachian foothills region.  Home to a special eco-system that includes endangered species, such as the Indiana bat, it’s beautiful and rich with history.  Some have even claimed it to be haunted.

It has also been under threat for some time.

The U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management have seen fit to lease and auction off parts of The Wayne to the oil/gas industry for fracking.

If you’re new to the concept of fracking, it’s the use of highly pressurized liquid to fracture wellbores in deep-rock formations, such as shale.  This is done in the hopes of stimulating the flow of natural oil/gas reserves trapped deep underground, so it can be more easily pumped out.

As you can imagine, there is much debate as to whether or not this is a safe option for fueling our energy needs.  Industry PR proclaims it as wholly safe and an economic boon to whatever area it’s performed in.  They like to paint naysayers as well-meaning but ignorant of the process and its benefits.

Environmental concerns abound, from the polluting of downstream waterways to the increased seismic activity in fracked areas.  Pipelines have burst, wells have caught fire, and major damage to the surrounding landscape has resulted.  Far from just “an ignorant outcry”, these are well documented incidences.

Fracking pollution diagram
Diagram of fracking-related air & water pollution

Despite this, the Forest Service and BLM have willfully ignored the concerns of the public and neglected to perform the assessments necessary to making an informed decision on the matter before opening forest land to leases and auction sales.

Another auction is set for next month, on Sept. 21.

It seems that, as many public groups are guilty of, the dollar signs they saw came before the job they are tasked with performing.  Several environmental groups are suing these agencies for their neglect.

One of these groups, Ohio Environmental Council, is beefing up their formal protest with a webinar on LTE writing.  LTE (or letters to the editor) are not just for opinion pieces.  It can be a very effective tool for activism and is a grassroots method of building awareness and stimulating local action for issues that can affect everybody.  The webinar will take place on Friday Aug. 25 at noon (EST).

If you’re a concerned citizen, there are many ways to affect change, locally or otherwise.

It can be as simple as a donation to a favorite related non-profit or contacting your political representatives.  It can be as complex as regularly attending protests and town hall meetings or becoming an official spokesperson for your cause.  You can be as public or private about it as you’re comfortable with.

The most important thing is to not let complacency take hold.  As the Flower Children were fond of saying, and Nahko sings: “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for”.

Happy Lughnasadh!

I wanted to pop in today to wish everyone, Pagan or not, a Happy Lughnasadh.  For the record, as it’s a dicey looking word (many Gaelic words are), it’s pronounced “loo-nah-sod” or “loo-nah-sad”.

In Pagan tradition, Lughnasadh (or Lammas, meaning ‘loaf-mass’) is the first of the 3* harvests.  It introduces the transition of summer into autumn and is often celebrated as a grain festival.  By some contrast, the next holiday, Mabon (or Autumn Equinox) is often considered a wine festival.

There are many ways to celebrate, from a simple meditation to a full-blown ritual.  It could be a baking of bread that is consecrated (blessed) before eating.  If eating freshly harvested foods, don’t forget to save the seeds, for it is said that, if they sprout the next year, one should plant it as a connection with the Divine.  This seems to go especially for trees, such as apple.  However one chooses to revel, the main point is to mindfully recognize where the Wheel of the Year currently sits and express gratitude for/reflect on/celebrate/etc. your place as part of Nature.

There is also some lore involved with the holiday, much of it Celtic, but I won’t get too far into it today.  I intend to create a series on the Pagan holidays soon enough, so there’s no need to be redundant. 🙂

As I said before, whether you’re Pagan or not…enjoy your day!

 

*According to some traditions, Samhain (pronounced sow-en, not sam-hane) is not counted as the third harvest.

 

The Garden’s Coming Along Nicely

I know.  It’s been a while since my last post and I missed this past week’s Misplaced Myths.  I apologize.  A lot’s been happening and there were unforeseen complications recovering from my recent surgery.  Life happens, but I’m still here because I’m too far gone 😉

One of the things I wanted to use this blog for is to document my adventures as a wannabe homesteader.  I say wannabe because I’ve barely gotten the garden together, after several years of trying. In my defense, my problems with keeping plants alive started only when I tried to over-do it and go too big at once.  This year, I decided to start small.

We took down the fence last year and rebuilt it this year.  It delayed putting the garden in, so I didn’t get my cools in this spring and worried I was too late with my warms.  In the garden, I got some maters, okra, sweet peppers and a watermelon plant in.  In the shady side at the back, I transferred collards and 2 types of lettuce.  In the “corn/grain patch” on the other side of the barn, I planted heirloom corn and came back a couple weeks later and planted green beans with them and transplanted my yellow squash.

Fast forward, something like 1 or 1.5 month, and things are coming along nicely.  The corn’s near shoulder-height (so glad I went with a 90 day heirloom and not the typical 120 day sweet corn!) and some yellow squash are forming.  The maters are flowering, as is the watermelon plant, and the okra is gaining on the maters.  The collards and lettuces are lively and growing.

Of the failures, it looks like the peppers may not have survived and the green beans don’t seem to have sprouted at all.  I may have misjudged the peppers readiness for transplant, though, and the green bean seeds were from a couple years back.  May be contributing factors…

The yields aren’t likely to be huge, since I only planted a small bit, so there won’t be any canning this year.  I will probably be processing some to freeze, if it isn’t all eaten fresh.  I may still try to put in some cools for a fall harvest before it’s too late.  Been a while since I’ve had carrots I grew myself.  May try for those and some beets, cabbage and what-not.  I have seed onion, shallots and purple potatoes that I’ll give a go…I believe they can over-winter for a late spring harvest if planted and thickly mulched before the frost (but don’t quote me on that – I’m still a novice).  I’m hopeful for a more cultivated green thumb and an ever-expanding garden as time goes on.

I wish I had a picture to post.  Still gotta replace my worn-out digital cam.  Maybe there will be a pic come harvest time.

If you’re gardening this year, how are your plants coming along?  Leave a comment and let me know!

 

Misplaced Myths Monday #3 – Pandora

Back in the day, I had a blog called Misplaced Myths. It contained various myths, legends and tales turned sideways and over-analyzed, sometimes to a comedic extent. Needless to say, it was fun to write and I decided to bring it back here as a regular feature. (Re-)Introducing Misplaced Myth Mondays!

Pandora’s Box:  Highlighting Misogyny?

Sensing a theme here?  I was thinking the same thing, but it wasn’t intentional.  Honest.

The Pandora myth is most known for the box that, once opened, unleashed all the horrors mankind has to contend with.  Illness, sadness, anger, injustice, etc…only hope was there to ease the suffering.  What’s less widely known is how Pandora came to possess the box in the first place.

Zeus was angry with Prometheus for tricking him and giving fire to the humans.  Punishing him sadistically wasn’t enough, it seems, and so he decided to mess with his brother, Epimetheus, as well.  He had Hephaestus create a woman from clay.  She was the first woman and was given gifts from several of the other gods, from beauty to grace.  Some versions of the story claim she was created to be deceitful to man and that these gifts contained a bit of nastiness to aid her to that end.

Zeus gave her to Epimetheus as a bride and gifted them a locked box, telling them it should never be opened under any circumstances.  The couple agreed and Epimetheus was given the key.  Ol’ Zeus has anticipated that he would give in to curiosity.  However, it was Pandora who took the key while her husband slept and opened the box.

pandora2

Once she realized what she had done, it was too late.  The damage was done.  Humankind, from then on, was plagued with numerous ills that threatened their survival and well-being.  From old age and jealousy to pain, they were doomed to suffer.

Sounds surprisingly similar to the Eve myth in Christianity, doesn’t it?  I’m not sure when this story began circulating but the ancient Greeks did have contact with Middle-Eastern nations at a certain point, so the stories influencing one another would not be outside the realm of possibility.

Both stories are about the first woman screwing things up for all humanity, for all time.  Or are they?  Sure, they depict the woman either being devious or ignorant enough to make a destructive decision.  These stories place the women in a bad light – poor little ladies who are easily led (or given to temptation), highlighting a need for women to be looked after by men.

However, what’s often missed is that Pandora and Eve were led to their decision by men, who exploited their innocence.  Zeus and the serpent, who many assume is male (i.e. Satan).  Many ancient stories in which men make bad choices, it was often out of defiance or other deliberate reason.  So, why are women who make bad choices depicted as ignorant or otherwise “weak”?  Why isn’t the blame for the results placed on the men who deliberately pushed for them?  Food for thought.

Perhaps soon I’ll offset the feminist themes with a story that swaps the victim/villain roles.  After all, we must have balance and there are plenty of female villains to go around. 🙂

Got a myth you wanna see misplaced?  Gimme a holler!

It’s Essential Deal

I wanted to pass along an It Works! deal that’s going on for a limited time also.  Right now, the It’s Essential snack bars are 50% off.  That means you can have a case for only $12.50!

They’re marketed as a weight loss aid, but I also use snack bars like this to help hold my sugar steady in-between meals.  Loaded with fiber and plant-based protein, they have organic dark chocolate in them too.  What’s not to love about that?

If you wanna try these, or other It Works! products, click the link to my distributor site or use the contact form here.

Wildcraft’s on Sale!

Heads up, y’all!  The Wildcraft game is on sale, until this Thursday.  Typically, it only goes on sale in the winter, around Christmas-time, I believe.

For those who hadn’t heard of it yet, it’s a board game that teaches herbs and is cooperative (rather than competitive). My kids were stoked to get it for Christmas a couple years ago.  And, us adults enjoyed playing it too.  I also got their Herb Fairies set last year, when I was homeschooling my youngest.  Heck, the whole she-bang they offer is very cool.  If you’re into herbs at all, Learning Herbs is definitely worth a look-see!

If you have heard of it and  been on the fence about buying it, or waiting for it to go back on sale, now’s your chance.  Till Thursday, it’s down to $19.99 and you still get all the bonuses.

Image result for wildcraft game