Friday, December 31, 2010

A New Year

This day marks a most notable passage of Time... As continuous as the clock may tick the moments gone by, no other moment of the year reaches the same caliber as the clock striking in the New Year at Midnight.

It is with much anticipation for new hopes, new dreams and a new beginning that marks this moment of a changing era.  While many use this time to keep resolve, I find myself ready to set my own Intent.  Not so much for how things should go or to predict what should take place.  My intent is more about how I will respond to life events in the New Year.

Embarking on a New Year is much like walking through an open door, leaving one room behind and entering into another.  I don't have to know what is in the room to know that I am supposed to be there.  I am hopeful that certain people I love will be present in this room, or at least come into the room while I am there.  If not, I will love them throughout the duration, no matter...  Some of my surroundings will be similar to days gone by, some will be new to me.

Through this passage I see reflections of what was (memories) contrasted by a slight glimpse of what is to be (future).  Many old traditions will fall away and be replaced with new experiences.  I am choosing to move fear of the unknown aside so that I might look forward with the eyes of a child, wide open with hope and wonder.

Abondoning expectations, I choose my intent carefully.  I trust that all circumstances will bring about some worthwhile purpose.  I wish to see Beauty in the ordinary, and take notice of each day with Grace and Compassion.  I will listen to hear the calling that points me to my own service.

I am very excited about this New Year, I don't have to know what is going to happen... I want to be surprised!

Monday, September 6, 2010

Uses and benefits of Lemongrass

My love of growing and using culinary herbs began during childhood. I can still see and smell the fresh mint patch on a shady side of the yard in the Bay Area house where I grew up. Our backyard vegetable garden would include Parsley, Chives and Basil as well.

It occurred to me in recent years that as I try to incorporate the health benefits of leafy greens into my diet, that fresh green herbs should be counted into the equation. This is a fact that many of us overlook. There is almost as much Lutein in parsley, as there is in fresh spinach!

Two years ago, my friend who is an organic gardener introduced me to a new culinary delight. Lemongrass! This tropical plant grows and multiplies each season and she is able to harvest many bulbous sections of this fragrant plant for her use in cooking.

This introduction opened new doors for me in my herb garden and in my kitchen. I absolutely fell in love with the fresh lemony flavors of this herb! Never again will my chicken stock or my homemade chicken noodle soup be made without this fresh delicate accent! Rice dishes are enhanced and sauces flavored in new ways with this fresh taste. I have found that this is one herb you really do not have to worry about using too much of. It maintains a consistent background flavor regardless of how much you use, but does not get too pungent (my kind of ingredient, no fail).

I learned from my friend the ways to process and use fresh lemongrass by splitting open the bulb at the base with a sharp knife (it is a tough plant) and pounding the fleshy “meat” with a meat hammer before adding the piece of the plant to my teapot, broth and sauces. Then, I simply discard the fibrous stalk after the liquid steeps its flavors into my recipe.

Lemongrass Tea is amazingly refreshing iced and unsweetened. Hot Lemongrass Tea is soothing and satisfying. Researching the health benefits of this herb confirms that I have stumbled on something that will be a lifelong practice – sipping Lemongrass Tea…

With all this love for the many uses and benefits of Lemongrass, the time came to think about how I would process and preserve it for year round use (the plant is a tropical perennial). Here is what I came up with:

The blades of grass will dry easily if you simply put them in a dry vase (or) cut into pieces with scissors and allowed to dry in a cool dark place. I sometimes use flat cardboard boxes with holes poked all around the sides and layer my herbs between cloth napkins. The boxes are stacked onto the very highest top shelf inside my pantry where it stays dark and cool.

The dried peices of Lemongrass are tough so I use a spice grinder (coffee bean grinder used for spices only) and make a fine powder to use in my cooking when the fresh “bulbs” are not available during the winter months. This powder is easily added to recipes or even green smoothies, making it a perfect addition for many raw food recipes. The cut up dried pieces (unground) are perfect for making tea in the teapot.

The Lemongrass freezes very well, another option for having it on hand year round.

You can also make a tea from the fresh processed lemongrass and freeze the “tea” in ice cube trays or in a thin layer using a flat pan. (I use Pyrex glass pans to avoid BPA interaction when I freeze it) Once frozen, the “tea” can be chipped into pieces with a knife. Back into the freezer it goes for storage until you are ready to use it a piece at a time. Simply slip the frozen pieces of lemongrass “ice” into whatever liquid you are cooking. Easy!

I would love to hear from other cooks and gardeners about the different uses of this delicious and beneficial herb!

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Bamboo & Glass Water Bottle! Ingeneous Design!

The Bamboo Original™  $25.00- Volume: 17 oz
- Height: 10.25"
- Width: 3.125"

Finally, there's a clean, safe and stylish bottle that is made from the practically inexhaustible resources of bamboo and glass. Bamboo gives our unique bottles style and strength. The glass guarantees safe, clean drinking at all temperatures, erasing the dangers of plastic water bottles. Whether you're chugging ice-cold water or sipping on steaming-hot tea, this uber-cool bottle is BPA-free, ensuring no chemicals leach into your drink. To clean your insulated bottle, simply unscrew the bottom and the easy-to-tote top to remove the dishwasher-safe glass. To help clean the planet, simply keep using your Bamboo Bottle to hydrate instead of bottled water.


The Bamboo Bottle Company prides itself on making safe water bottles. The glass insert, plastic top, nut and bottom are all dishwasher safe. The bamboo sleeve is not. Before microwaving, remove the bamboo and plastic components.

My opinion:  Well thought out design takes you through the Journey...

Diva Recipe: Foaming Hand Soap

Diva Recipe: Foaming Hand Soap

Sunday, June 6, 2010

My Morning Smoothie

Some years back, while doing some health research on the benefits of Zeaxanthin and Lutien, I was somewhat amused to find so many “cure-all” type advertisements for health supplements. Distracted by the many so-called “authorities” on health and nutrition, it seemed as if each promoter had the secret to optimum health… well, that is if you bought a bottle of their product to ingest each day. One thing they all seemed to have in common was that the health supplement was made out of a rare fruit (one I never heard of) that grew only in remote regions on our planet… and only when the sun shown on it a certain way… well, you get where I am coming from.

Deciding to take a more practical approach to my quest for keeping myself healthy as I skate through life, I started researching nutrients in foods and food preparation. It just seems that if one can incorporate good nutrition into a daily routine it would go a long way towards laying groundwork for a healthy life. Enough servings of fresh fruits and vegetables seem to be the thing my diet is lacking. I could bet that for most of us there is a lot of room for improvement in this department.

The introduction of my morning smoothie ritual became sort of a spiraling thought process, a means to incorporate more uncooked fruits and vegetables into my daily diet. My Smoothies became more of a practice than a recipe; always relying on whatever the fruit basket offered that needed using that particular day. Since fresh fruit is not always available, I came to rely on my freezer and I started what I now call a “smoothie bin.”

Green Smoothies have become ever so popular for concentrating the diet with nutrient rich super foods. Tasting my Brother’s own recipe (chock full of parsley, celery and tons of fresh ginger) left me not really wanting to start each day off in this manner, a little too much “kick” for my own gently waking from sleep hours. However, adding some spinach to my Berry Smoothie, I found there really was not difference to the taste!

 I quickly learned that fresh sliced carrots added to my smoothie bin would easily liquefy when previously frozen and that they actually add some sweetness to my recipe! Kale and Spinach and Beet Greens started finding their way into my smoothie bin… grapes and bits of oranges, etc… When I slice the cauliflower for grilling and bits of little flowerets fall off, you guessed it, into my smoothie bin they go.

The ingredients in my smoothies evolve along with the food choices that are stored in my smoothie bin. Every morning, into the blender goes fresh fruit that is sitting in my fruit basket, frozen ingredients from my smoothie bin, milk (almond milk is my fav!) and a little fruit juice or yogurt. I find no need to add sweeteners, using this method, but would recommend a teaspoon of pure Maple Syrup to those who do.

Exploring different methods and recipes brings so many more ideas to what I choose to eat and how my choices affect my health and daily performance. Please add your own ideas and recipes in the comments section of this post … it is a process, and a journey we are all on, despite our different demographics!
smoothie, ingredients, smoothie bin, cherlea productions
Ingredients from my frozen smoothie bin before blending

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Making Laundry Soap

My new laundry routine is -- (subtle drum roll) -- making the laundry soap!

Yep, you heard me right… I actually make time to make the laundry soap that washes all of our clothing and linens. My preference is liquid and there is a bit of a trick to getting it right.

Is this practice worth the time and effort, you ask? I think so, and now I will show you why.

#1. cost – saves hundreds of dollars a year

#2. I love the way my clothes get clean and how they smell and feel.

#3. All those laundry detergent bottles I “threw away”. I now reuse! And I reuse vinegar bottles, juice bottles etc. for this purpose as well. This is my one desirable use for plastic as I continue to de-plastic my kitchen and cooking methods. The key word REUSE (means you don’t even have to recycle!)

About every 3 months I assemble these ingredients:

½ bar of Zote Soap, grated (see substitution options)

1 cup of Arm& Hammer Washing Soda (sodium carbonate, not to be confused with baking “soda” which is sodium bicarbonate)

1 cup of Borax

I found the Zote Soap and the Borax no problem, available at most of the stores where I shop. I had a hard time finding the Washing Soda, but research taught me that “PH Plus” that you use for swimming pools is the same thing. Check the ingredient contents on the package. It should say “sodium carbonate” and nothing else.

It’s really important to know a little about what is used and what substitutions are appropriate. Then it may take time for you to perfect your own recipe depending on the quality/makeup of your water.

My first batch did not turn out quite right. I made it way too thick. (I mistook the perfect consistency while still warm for the finished product. When it cooled, the substance took on a solid form in the bottle!) Now, when I pour the finished recipe into the bottles, I leave about 1/4 to 1/3 of the bottle with air space for shaking and diluting as needed. As you perfect the proportions, you will get a feel for the right fill level.

First, I grate the soap. I tried a food processor but it is so easy to grate it by hand and cleanup is much easier.

The grated soap goes into a big sauce pot with 6 cups of water and I cook it on medium heat until all the soap is dissolved. The Zote Soap dissolves easily and does not make the “noodley” texture that others speak of in other online forums.

I get my 5 gallon bucket ready, yes 5 gallons so that you don’t make a big mess! Hot tap water goes into the bucket first, filling about ¼ of the way. Next, I pour in the contents of the pot and immediately, I add 1 cup of Borax and 1 cup of Washing Soda, stirring and stirring with a long handled, sturdy spoon. The mixture thickens – a lot! Start adding more hot tap water and keep stirring, filling the bucket about 2/3 of the way to the top.

I store these bottles in a cupboard in the garage and use them as needed.

For our household laundry needs and the type of water we have (hard water), I find about ¾ cup of my homemade liquid laundry soap per load is ideal. Shaking the bottle each time you use it is the only way to keep the mixture balanced. It may start to separate some with storage.

Leave it to my Cousin’s kids to tell me how to do laundry! Bethany referred me to this recipe and let me know that she uses “ a couple of tablespoons” of white vinegar in place of Fabric Softener in her last rinse dispenser. I have found this to be an amazingly easy way to wash clothes with the best of results! No more “waxy/perfumey” feel and smell to my laundry! No static, no vinegar smell and just the right amount of softness to the fabrics.

One final tip. Adding a few drops of your preferred pure essential oil (I use lavender) to the liquid laundry soap as well as to your vinegar bottle lets you customize how it all smells. You are in total control!

Trying this practice will find you enjoying fresh, clean laundry as you take a huge step toward eco-fying your laundry routine.

Worth the time and effort? What is your opinion?
Next, I use a big measuring cup with a pour spout, I pour the contents into my plastic bottles, using a funnel, a little more than ½ of the way full. I then let the bottles cool, sometimes for a couple of hours. Just about the time the bottles feel luke-warm, I add more hot water and shake them again, leaving some air in the top of the bottle for future shaking and remixing.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Food Preservation by Yvonne Leonhardt

My kitchen continues to change it’s contents over time as I learn more about healthy eating, cooking and food storage. Observing these changes and the cycles they take on got me to thinking about what my Mother and Grandmothers may have noticed over the years in their own kitchens.
Meet my Mom, Yvonne Leonhardt, who agreed to write this post as a guest author of “itsnotthedestination”.

One of my daughters recently asked me about refrigeration and food preservation in the past. I decided to write about this for all my sons and daughters, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and all you friends who may be reading this.

Our Mother canned fruits and tomatoes in season for use all year. She used Mason Jars for containers. Dad helped at times and of course we daughters often helped. My fondest memory was the bushel basket of whatever was being processed, on the floor by the kitchen door. We were allowed to take a piece of fruit
to eat whenever we wished! My favorite was the fresh, juicy tomatoes!

Another memory is how Mother always apologized for not making dessert once in a while, and for asking one of us to go down in the fruit cellar to get a jar of peaches – as if she hadn’t worked just as hard when she prepared them as she would have to have baked something that day!

The pioneers in the USA were really challenged in many ways. One was keeping perishable food safe for later consumption.

One method was by digging a hole on an angle and sinking a barrel or a metal drum into it, then placing a heavy cover at the opening. It was cooler with the ground used as insulation from heat, or to keep the food from freezing in winter. Sometimes this was built under a house for added insulation.

Another way was to build a spring house. If a cold spring was available nearby, a small house was built over it. The cold running water cooled the food placed on shelves in the house. In time businesses were set up sawing ice blocks from frozen lakes and storing them in ice houses under layers of straw for insulation.

 Iceboxes were built for use in kitchens. They were made of sturdy wood, with layers of cork or corrugated cardboard for insulation, and lined with galvanized sheet metal. The doors were also very heavily insulated and needed sturdy hinges and latches to keep them tightly closed. Inside, racks were placed for shelving.
Bowls or jars of food would be placed on the shelves with plates used for lids covering the dishes.

A small door at one side near the top of this cooler was for the block of ice. A drain was installed to a pan under the icebox for drainage of the water which melted from the ice. This had to be emptied twice a day. When forgotten, our family would get up in the morning to find large puddles of water on the kitchen floor.

In time there were ice houses that could manufacture the ice in very large blocks. Then “icemen” would buy the ice and chop it into smaller blocks as needed, and deliver it to houses. A card was put into a window letting the man know how much ice was needed. It was usually sold in 25, 50, 75, or 100 pound blocks.

In about 1910 small kitchen electric refrigerators were being made, but even by 1932, only wealthy people could afford them. At $250 each it would have taken an average worker almost a year to be able to earn that much, and certainly a much longer time to save that much!

I was born in 1930 so I mostly remember iceboxes, and the iceman who delivered our ice to us. But even in 1949 after I was married and we had our first daughter, there was a cupboard (with no insulation) built into the outer kitchen wall, under a window in our rented three-room flat. This was originally used to store perishable foods in winter.

Refrigerators were not common in homes until about the 1940s. We had to turn off these refrigerators and defrosted them each week, as heavy frost built up on the cooling unit.

I believe our large family of 9 children first had a refrigerator in 1942 when our parents were able to buy a large, run-down mansion in St. Louis for $4500. The living area had a total of fourteen rooms and one and a half baths on three floors. There was also a basement with five rooms and bath. The two car garage had a small room and half bath to be used for chauffeur’s quarters. Since we didn’t even have one car, it was used for a shop for our Dad, and the small room was used for a short time for my brother to raise birds, as it was heated for winter use.

But getting back to food preservation: With the more modern refrigerator, Mother wanted more space saving containers for the food. Squared glass dishes were being marketed, and our family purchased some for food storage. They had glass lids, and it was easy to see what was contained in each one. Mason Jars were also used for food storage in the refrigerators, as well as for canning foods.

Finally, after WWII, plastics were invented. Instead of glass dishes for storage, rigid plastics were used for food storage. I bought a few of these and my husband was so upset! He said they would just break! And he was right. Great care had to be used to let the food cool completely so as not to crack these hard dishes.

In 1946 Tupperware and softer plastic dishes were being made and housewives loved them. We were invited to Tupperware parties. The items were very attractive but expensive. And even these had limits for food storage. If hot soup was placed into them, they bubbled and layers of plastic would peel off. But no one contemplated what else these plastics gave off into the foods.

Today our offspring have gathered more information on the effects of plastics in our lives and we have come full circle – going back to our daughter requesting glass refrigerator dishes for Christmas.
As glass was always a common material for drinking containers, it is good to see more glass used in many ways. It is a material that can be recycled over and over.

Walk To Work And Carry Your Lunch!

Our Dad always got up at 5 a.m. and had a large breakfast of cereal, toast with butter and jelly, eggs, bacon, fruit, and coffee with cream. Mother would make a couple sandwiches of left over roast for him and wrap them in waxed paper and then in newspaper. Households always seemed to have enough newspapers for various things as it was the most common means of getting the news. No TV and no radio until some years after my parents married.

If we ran out of waxed paper, bread bags were reused for wrapping sandwiches.

After work Dad also walked home! About a 40 minute walk each way. He was 5’5” and never weighed over 135. He had no use for snack foods or second helpings. But bread had to be included at every meal. He knew how much he could eat, filled his plate and ate every bit of it.

When Mother baked – which was almost every day – the loaves of bread or the cake were covered with dish towels. Usually the cake was frosted as soon as it cooled, which kept it fresh longer. How she managed to do all that every day to feed 11 people is a mystery. She also sewed beautiful clothing for her daughters!

We were a fairly poor family, but in later years we really ate well! However there were earlier lean years also. An older sister tells of asking Mother what kind of special pudding she used to make for them before they went to bed. Mother covered her face and cried, “Oh, don’t remind me of that! I knew I couldn’t send little ones to bed hungry so I took sugar and flour or cornstarch with water and a bit of flavoring and made pudding using water instead of milk!”

Our parents taught us to be resourceful. This was probably one of the greatest gifts of all!

Monday, January 11, 2010

Reducing Risks In My Kitchen

This video tells why I am changing my kitchen over to Stainless Steel and Glass.  I am rapidly getting rid of plastic in it's various forms.  Give the information and the questions that lie within, why would we take chances about the risk factors of ingesting BPA ?  We carefully pay attention to bacteria when it comes to food storage and keeping our counters and dishes clean, why would we not do a head's up on chemical issues?

Now here is a video and this Doctor practices what I now practic in ideas for bringing my own water.