I bought a cow…

Ok, not really but sort of…I bought a “1/4 share” of a cow, who is grass-fed and pastured for it’s whole life until it is butchered.  My cow…or 1/4 cow, lives in San Juan Bautista, CA, which is about 60 miles away from where I live.  I was able to see, through videos and photos,  the grassland and pastures that my cow grazed on before it was butchered.

So now you know, the cow I bought is actually dead.   And,  I am eating it’s meat, using it’s bones for broth and feeding my dog it’s organs.

If this is grossing you out and you eat meat, tsk, tsk.  You should know that a hamburger used to be a cow – either a happy cow (like mine) or a sad cow, that lived it’s whole life in a factory-farmed feedlot.

Do you want to know something ironic? (or possibly, not ironic – I lost the ability to define irony after that Alanis Morissette’s song.  I digress)  I was a vegetarian for 15 years.  A strict vegetarian.  A label reading vegetarian.  Why?  I’d decided that I liked animals more than their flesh.  But, sh#t happens, you are anemic, you eat only carbohydrates, you gain weight and you are unhappy.  So, I started eating meat again but really slowly and carefully.  I wasn’t a fan of the product and I disliked the industry immensely.

I had to make a choice – eat meat but only if it is good meat from happy animals.  Vegetarians and vegans may believe that a happy animal is a live animal, not a dead, butchered one and I don’t disagree.  There are shades of grey.  But, my particular body does disagree with a non-meat diet.

So, I had to buy a cow.

I am single and have a dog – who, luckily,  also eats meat.  So, a 1/4 cow amounted to approximately 100 lbs of meat for one year.  I had the meat split up into 4 parcels – so, every few months, I’d pick up about 25 lbs of meat, bones and organs.  I got every single, possible cut of the cow – things I’d never heard of like the “petite tender” which is a filet of the shoulder and “top sirloin.”    I learned the difference between a pot roast and a chuck roast.  And, I made the best short ribs this side of…Nevada or Arizona.  Ok – so CA really isn’t BBQ country but whatever, they tasted great.

Grass fed and pastured beef, locally grown, sold to me directly by the rancher is the only way I will ever by beef again.  Now, if I could buy a pig, a few turkeys and a bunch of chickens…I’d be set:)

ps:  If you want to follow more stories like this, check out http://www.foodrenegade.com/fight-back-friday-march-22nd/

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Holy Mother of God – Sweet Potato Mash

IMG_16432 lbs of sweet potatoes.  I keep the skins on and cut off the edges.

IMG_16441/4 cup or more butter

IMG_1643Since I had extra sweet potatoes, I used a little bit extra everything

IMG_1645melt butter in pressure cooker on “brown” setting

IMG_1646gather 2 tsp salt, 1 tsp baking soda and 1/2 cup of water

IMG_1647my cut up potatoes

IMG_1654place potatoes into melted butter

IMG_1649add the salt, baking soda and water

IMG_1648 stir well to coat the potatoes with water and butter

IMG_1652Roast your potatoes for 24 minutes to get that roasted flavor.  Pressure 150 PSI at 24 minutes, then do a quick release.  Be careful not to burn yourself!  I use a kitchen towel to absorb the steam and protect my hands.

IMG_1653prepare chipotle peppers in adobo sauce (1 tsp – 2 Tbl depending on your spice preference) plus 2 Tbl of Mable Syrup (preferably Grade B)


IMG_1655let the potatoes cool a bit, then toss into BlendTec, Vitamix or food processor along with the chipotle pepper and maple syrup

IMG_1657I used my Blentec on the “sauces” pre-set and blended 4 x to make a super creamy and velvety texture.  You’d never know the nutrient dense skins were in there at all!

IMG_1658Cleanup is a breeze…rinse and clean Pressure cooker pot, rinse the Blentec, add soap and blend and rinse, wash the cutting board, spatula and cup

And, Voila!  The most velvety sweet/salty/spicy puree chock full of nutrient dense foods!!

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What kind of world…?

I am feeling detached from this world.  I don’t understand how I can live in a world that doesn’t allow a person like me (not a criminal) to not be able to live with a dog and a cat.  I literally can not find a place to live.  And, the harder I look, the more depressed I get.

I am a good person.  A public school teacher.  I chose to be of service to my community rather than follow a lucrative (but spiritually empty) career in pharmaceuticals.  I gave up my dream of a Ph.D in Ethnobotany at Cornell to be a high school teacher in the “ghetto.”  And, I rescue animals.  I literally take them off the streets as strays and make them part of my family.  I have never gotten a pet from a shelter because the pets I choose, would not make it to a shelter.  Lastly, I bought a house (a condominium, actually) in April of 2008.  5 months before the US economy collapsed and the worst downturn in real estate was ever recorded.

Four years later, I have a cat and a dog, 10,000 dollars in credit card debt, partial disability and I can’t find a place to live.

Everyone is full of advice – why don’t you get rid of your dog?  Why don’t you move back in with your mom in Philadelphia?  Why don’t you move to Livermore or Tracy?  Move out of California?

Why can’t I find a place to live?  What kind of world would deny me, a good person with 2 pets, a place, a space to live?  Why do I need to prove 3x the rent in income for a rental when I did not need to do that for a mortgage?

I have spent hours online looking for pet-friendly housing – click, click, click…read (NO PETS), back, back, back.  Click, click, click, click…read (NO PETS), back, back, back.  When I get to a “PETS MAYBE” or “ONE SMALL PET NEGOTIABLE” I call.  “What kind of dog?”  “A Boxer mix.”  “Oh, well as long  as it’s not a Pit Bull.”  “Thanks.”

Landlords have jacked rents up to all-time highs, taking advantage of the fact that millions of people just like me were talked into mortgages we couldn’t afford, with the promise that we’d make big profits in only a year or two.  The rental market is flooded with families with pets – who bought houses, got a dog and then watched it all go up in flames.  Most pet-friendly listings don’t even stay on the market for a day. 

But, I have yet to find a place willing to accept me, my particular dog and my cat.

15 days ago, I believed that the perfect home – not my dream home but one that met my needs – would just come to me.  It hasn’t.  With 2 weeks to move out, I now have to find and rent sub-standard housing – just to ensure a roof over my head.  What sub-standard means to me is a place that I don’t feel safe and secure in – that is what I am giving up.

If I sound bitter, that is because I am.


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Wild Salmon and Grapefruit

It’s official. I am pre-diabetic, just like a large percentage of the US.  Unlike that large percentage of the US, I am not obese (but I am overweight), I am not sedentary (but I could move more), nor do I not eat fast food or processed foods or even conventional supermarket foods.   I eat meat but was vegetarian for 13 years so I almost have to force myself to remember to eat it.  I am 45 years old and have a heavy genetic predisposition to all things heart disease.

Last February, a cardiologist prescribed two drugs for me to take.  FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  He called it “drug therapy” and reminded me of the way they do things in Western medicine.  He actually said “Western medicine.”  I got the drugs for a measly 10.00 because I have health insurance.  However, instead of taking my first dose, I read the accompanying “prescription facts.”  That is where I learned that there is a chemical compound in grapefruit that increases (or decreases – I forget)  the effect of the cholesterol-lowering drug.  It was a contra-indication, which meant, if I was to take this drug for the rest of my life, I could not eat another grapefruit.  Ever.

I looked longingly into my wooden fruit bowl on my dining table.  Inside, nestled next to some apples and oranges, were 2 beautiful, organic grapefruits. *sigh*  I tossed the 2 prescriptions into the trash, and vowed to heal my body through nutrition.  Soon after, I ate one of those beautiful Ruby Red grapefruits.

A year later, my “numbers” are basically the same.  I did the opposite of what the USDA suggests by eating way more fat from animals ala the Weston Price model  but that’s a whole other blog…which means that I need to keep on trying new things.  So, I am seeing a naturopath.  I am eating fewer carbs and have begun eating protein at every meal, every snack.  I am also taking supplements.  A LOT of supplements.  21 a day, to be precise…which is where wild salmon comes in:)

My naturopath told me to start eating fish – namely oily fleshed, cold water fish such as wild Alaskan salmon, mackerel, sardines, herring and black cod 3x per week.  Guess what?  I don’t eat fish!  Well, now I do.  I found a source for wild caught, Alaskan salmon.  I had to order a 10 lb minimum in advance.  The order is open for a few weeks then closed.   The fisherman does his thing.   The fish arrive in Seattle, WA, where they are processed, flash frozen and put into boxes.  After the whole order is filled, a truck is sent down to the Bay Area.  The timing is completely dependent on the fisherman.  We are given a 2-3 week window of when to expect our fish.  Then, once the fisherman lets the host know he is back on shore, the fish is (seemingly) delivered with in 48 hours.

Today, I got the email.  “The truck is here!”  I picked up my 10 lbs of reefnet caught, Pink  Salmon plus one pound of Salmon eggs.  The fish is portioned in 5-8 oz. pieces and individually frozen.  A beautiful presentation, to say the least but, I paid a lot of money for it.  The experiment was to see if spending good money on wild caught, sustainably fished salmon would taste good.  My previous experience with salmon had been bad.  I pretty much hated it.  Unless it was raw (sashimi) or smoked.  I knew if I was going to eat cooked salmon 3x a week, I’d better love it.

The jury is in.  This salmon tastes nothing like I have ever experienced.  The flesh is firm, almost like chicken breast.  There is not one hint of “fishiness” in flavor or smell.  I believe switching my protein source to wild salmon is going to have amazing effects on my status as a pre-diabetic.  Check back.  I hope to have some good numbers to report.

Oh, and check out the website for the source:  http://www.lummiislandwild.com/index.cfm

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TJOPOIG – The Joy or Peril of Instant gratification

I love it. I want it. I probably believe I need it (but, deep down, I know I don’t).

I LOVE my broken hand! Every day for the past 2 weeks, I have experienced the joy of instant gratification (or IG). The first day, I could not put my thumb and forefinger together. The 2nd day, I could do that, but could only pinch something that had the weight of a piece of paper or less. I could not pinch/pick up my iPhone on that 2nd day but by the 3rd day, I could…and, so it has proceeded. Each day, I find I can do something I couldn’t do the day before. And, with it, comes a sense of joy and happiness. Which got me thinking…

Do I really need to break a bone to capture this sense of happiness?? Is it possible to approach every day as a new and wonderful gift? If yes, then how?

I think my biggest character flaw in the first half of my life has been my drive for instant gratification. I am the child who ate the marshmallow as soon as the door was shut. I said “Fuck having 2 marshmallows…I might be dead in 15 minutes. Let me eat this here marshmallow now.” Pardon my language but, I was also the kid who wrote FUCK on the school wall in 1st grade AND got caught AND had no idea what it meant but knew it was bad. If you are not aware of the Stanford University “Marshmallow Experiment”, here is a link:


Basically, they put kids in a room with a marshmallow and gave them the choice to eat it or to wait 15 minutes and get a 2nd marshmallow. Apparently, the ability to wait the 15 minutes and get double the booty is an indicator of success (and higher SAT scores).

But, I am clearly in Part II of this life-thing. This human, physical body, temporary phase. And, I no longer want to want to eat the marshmallow. I want to want to wait. Not for double booty. Just because I am great with no marshmallow, one marshmallow or 2. It just shouldn’t matter.

I don’t think discipline for discipline’s sake is what I am after. I think that I want to tune in to a different station. I believe that the most important things may be intangible. I am starting to see that it is even difficult, if not impossible, to put words to what matters. But, I can easily put words to what doesn’t matter:

having more than one water bottle, having more than one of anything, checking my email every 5 minutes, being right, being heard, living outside my means, feeling bad about myself, doing things because I think someone else is watching or caring, being perfect, having a perfect dog, or job, or home, or partner, making a good impression, not being honest, anger and hurry, anxiety and worry, stress or any negative feeling, any feelings for that matter, having enough, being enough, and, of course, marshmallows.

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Slowing down (or “things you can’t do well with one hand”)

Ah, life! Just when my knee had healed from a summertime backpacking injury and I was ready to start my yoga practice again…I broke my wrist. How? Not important (a “mishap” is the best way to describe it) But, why Universe, why?

It took a few days for me to come to terms with my new “disability.” My left hand (luckily, my non-dominant hand) has to be fully immobilized for 4 weeks, minimum. My prognosis is excellent. I have what is known as an avulsion fracture. I was given the choice to be responsible and keep the splint I’d been given at Urgent Care or get a cast. I chose the former and was grateful I had a choice. And, after fully realizing how things are going to be different for the next month, I am grateful for the injury itself.

Let me explain. Shit happens. Life happens. I am not nearly enlightened enough to be manifesting great health or wealth (yet) but, while I am on my path to enlightenment, I will take what is given to me with grace. I have been given the opportunity to slow down, to relax, to drive less, to type less, to text less amongst other things. The really important stuff I can do. I can work, exercise my dog, feed myself, bathe myself and sleep somewhat comfortably. At first, I lamented that I couldn’t cook (or clean up) but I can afford to buy food that is easily prepared. Having a Whole Foods and many other nourishing food sources at my disposal, it’s kind of a treat!

So, I am enjoying my new (forced) slower pace. I am doing things that I rarely allow myself to do because my normal speed is go, go go. However, to keep things in perspective, I must end with a list of things that really are either impossible or difficult to maneuver with one hand:

opening jars, opening anything that has a lid, for that matter (the child-proof Vicodin bottle? Had to go in my mouth and be clenched by my teeth while I simultaneously pushed down with my good hand and turned), attaching my dogs collar, backpack and muzzle, let’s see – I am wearing elastic banded pants for now, slip-on shoes, don’t even let me get started about how I am getting a bra on (!), putting deodorant on the opposite (right) arm pit (anything having to do with that armpit!), cutting a grapefruit (picture it wedged between my bosom and my splint as I sort of hacked away at it), folding laundry, putting things in my backpack (then getting my backpack on), getting money or credit cards out of my wallet, reading a book in bed (one hand to hold, no hand to turn page), oh, and um, typing – or rather pecking:)

Here’s to two handed-ness, slowing down or both:)

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How to “do” resolutions

It only took me 20-some years to figure it out. A giant “To Do” list is def. NOT the way to go. Been there, done that…doesn’t work. Since I have spent the last 15 Christmases in Philly, I therefore have had a 6+ hour airplane ride home right around January 1 – 15 years in a row. Perfect time to make that giant list. Perfect failure in the follow through as well.

Last January, I had a revelation (about revolutions) I thought really hard about what I wanted my life to look like or to feel like or to be like. I came up with the idea that I wanted to get closer to the source. Of food, of me, of God.

So, I naturally started with my dog’s food. I decided to feed her raw meat, based on the prey model. This wasn’t an easy decision for me, as I’d been a vegetarian for 15 years because meat (flesh, muscle, blood, organs, bone) are gross. Even after I put meat back in my diet, I’d say, at best, I was a reluctant meat eater. Back to Sierra…so, I ordered my first month’s worth of raw meat.

20 lbs of turkey necks later, I was a LOT closer to the source!

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2 dogs playing

If I had never adopted Phoenix, I would never have believed how complicated, yet beautiful 2 dogs playing can be.  I have had Sierra for almost 2 years but I rarely get to see her play w another dog.  I used to take her to a dog park but I couldn’t relax and enjoy watching her bc I didn’t trust the other dogs, the other owners or myself.  Now, she plays 2 times a week at doggie daycare but I have never seen her actually playing in real time. 

They described her play style as “rough and tumble”. OMG! What does that mean? Well, now I know. It looks and sounds like my version of a dog fight. Teeth, growls, tumbles, snarls, bites, take-downs…it is violent but controlled. Thanks to the book “Calming Signals” by Turid Rugaas, I now can see some of the subtle communication going on between the 2 of them.

I invite you to subscribe to my Youtube account “Taiairam” to witness all of the beauty of my Pit Bull rescue(s) Sierra and Phoenix. Here is a small video of them at play:

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Goodbye, Phoenix

It really hurts my heart to say bye to this dog. As much as he has disrupted my life, cost me thousands, ruined life for my cat…irregardless, I fell in love w him. But, it took me 3 months to find him a new home…and off to his new home he goes, tomorrow.

He is asleep in his crate right now…as hard as he plays, he sleeps like a little angel. Unfortunately, he is so dark (and no flash on the iPhone), so I have no pics of him asleep (compared to the literal thousands I have of Sierra asleep – ridiculous) but here is one of the cuter ones:

I know it is going to be really hard for me to drive away from him tomorrow. I wonder how Sierra will act/react? As stressful as having 2 Pit Bull rescues has been (single, in a 3rd floor condo), I am already looking into fostering senior dogs – just so Sierra won’t have to be alone:)

Here is a link to their last play session from earlier tonight:

Goodbye, Phoenix. You won my heart.

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Happy 2011…the 70’s, the 80’s, the 90’s, the 2 Thousands’s – now what?

What do you call this decade coming up? The “twenty-tens”?

(eh – whateva. Not MY decade, anywayz) OR IS IT ? ? ?

I am optimistic! why? Lets see…in foreclosure (check) have 2 dogs and a cat in a small space (check), no foreseeable change in income (check) ALL family 3,000 miles away (check) never married (check)…what’s to be worried about??!! LOL

Somehow, throwin’ caution to the wind, walkin’ away from 100,000.00 commitment, movin’ on…it all makes the possibilities bigger/badder/~hopefuly, better. In my own words, (and in dis-homage to the English language), Haa Pee Nue Yere!

Here’s to the Twenty Tens:)

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