Wednesday, October 28, 2009

I LOVE Pumpkins!!

I love pumpkins because they are orange, round and happy! I love their different shapes and sizes…even the white ones out on the market now are really cool. I love them because they remind me of autumn ~ my favorite season. A time when the colors of nature are so bright and colorful, when sweaters and jeans and boots come out. When it’s cool outside and on a sunny day everything seems to sparkle and a cloudy overcast day looks like snow even though it really isn’t cold enough yet. I also love the way that pumpkins taste, they are so versatile you can make pies, cookies, cakes, bread and soups. Pumpkin is good roasted and mashed just like potatoes even the seeds are tasty when roasted in the shell with butter, tamari and seasonings. Pumpkin is full of vitamins and nutrients and right now is prime time pumpkin time! In anticipation of the pumpkin harvest I purchased a can of organic pumpkin a few weeks back but yesterday I finally found some nice organic pie pumpkins for a really great price.

I cut my pumpkin in half and scooped out the seeds…which I will roast later. While I am typing this, the pumpkin is cooking in my tiny little RV oven. I placed each half with an inch or so of water into a cake pan and now they are roasting at 410 degrees for about an hour.

When finished the skin will just pull off and all that will be left is the beautiful orange pumpkin flesh! Cooked and ready for our use. What will we create?

Pumpkin raisin muffins? A traditional pumpkin pie? Pumpkin bread with walnuts and cranberries? Pumpkin pancakes topped with toasted pecans and maple whipped cream? Pumpkin ginger cookies? A pumpkin smoothie? Roasted pumpkin soup? The possibilities seem endless don’t they?

Just like life, you can get a hold of little something that you love and appreciate. Then from that you have the power to create so many different possibilities. I know that Our Creator is always working through us to allow all of these possibilities. If I didn’t love and appreciate pumpkins so much then none of the possibilities would exist for me, would they? They would all exist but just not for me. So, with that in mind, the way I see it is if I am able to expand and maximize all that I love and appreciate in the world around me then naturally all my possibilities will expand as a result of my love and appreciation. Find a way to love more in what is around you and watch your possibilities expand.

And on the pumpkin roasting in my oven…well, I let you know what all I end up co-creating!

Monday, October 26, 2009


I'm a big fan of working with what you have when it comes to cooking and in life. I'm not a big fan of running out to the store just to pick up one or two things to complete a recipe. So when I decided to make minestrone soup...I started digging through the pantry and fridge to find out what all I had to make minestrone. I almost always have celery but I had used the last of it the other day to make homemade chicken noodle soup...I put celery in lots of stuff, it adds flavor and texture and it lasts a long time before spoiling. So this time there is no celery in the soup but I would've used it if I had it!

So here's what I came up with for my gypsy mama minestrone soup:

Minestrone is basically just an italian vegetable soup with beans and pasta. I used beef stock and crushed tomatoes but you could also use chicken or vegetable stock. In the refrigerator I found, a half of a green pepper, a zucchini and some baby carrots. Then the pantry brought forth an onion, some garlic, kidney beans, some canola oil and a half a box of whole wheat organic rotini.

Into my favorite cooking vessel went chopped onion, sliced carrots, the green pepper and the zucchini with about a tablespoon of oil and of course…the garlic!!

Which I cooked a bit to get the flavors going, then add about 1 T. of flour to help with thickening.

I added the crushed tomatoes, the stock and beans and let simmer. A bit before serving I added the pasta and voila’ ~ Minestrone!! It's an easy soup that is very satisfying. If you have celery or other vegetables you want to use up, go ahead and add them.

Gypsy Mama Minestrone:

All ingredients used are organic!!

1 onion chopped roughly

1 handful of baby carrots sliced

½ green pepper chopped

"A couple of stalks of celery if you have it!"
1 small zucchini sliced in rounds and then cut in half

2-3 cloves of garlic chopped roughly

1 T. canola oil - I would have used olive oil but was out

1 T. unbleached organic all-purpose flour

1 1/2 tsp. oregeno

Salt & Pepper to taste

Sautee’ veggies with oil until softened then add flour to coat veggies.
Then add:
24 oz. of Broth ~ whatever you choose (beef, chicken, vegetable)

1 large can of crushed tomatoes

1 can of kidney beans or garbanzo or both!!

PASTA- you choose how much and what kind-I used a half of box of whole wheat rotini.

Bring to a boil then turn down to a simmer for an hour or more. The smell of a big pot of soup simmering on the stove is awesome! You could also put in the crockery cooker at this point if you are going out for the day.

About 20-30 minutes before serving add pasta. If you are going to freeze any of you minestrone, cook the pasta separately then add to the soup. Otherwise it will be mushy and disintegrate.

Can you come up with something from just what you have already on hand? Can you work with what you have? What do you think you are missing? Because I’m a firm believer that whatever it is we need resides within us already. If you ‘think’ you don’t possess something would you consider working with what you ‘think’ you do have? I think you will be amazed at what you can come up with…I know I always am!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Spinach Quiche

I love brunch on the weekend. Mainly because it means I can get away with making only two meals that day instead of three. Generally the kids prepare their own breakfast, consisting of organic cereal, sprouted grain bread toast, oatmeal and other such easy fare. While still living in the "stick house" ~that's the name full-timing RVers and FOTR (families on the road) give a brick and mortar house opposed to the kind on wheels like we live in now, it was part of the boys' morning routine to make their own breakfast before school. I think by the age of 5, both of them could scramble eggs all by themselves (they had a little supervision). Now, five years later they are both excellent junior chefs. I picked up a couple of whole wheat organic pie crusts the other day made by Wholly Wholesome and stuck them in the little rv freezer.

I like to make my own pie crust sometimes too. With the pre-made crust it made it easy this morning to whip up a yummy Spinach Quiche:

1 whole wheat organic pie crust
Frozen or fresh organic spinach...fill up the crust.
1 cup grated organic cheese, whatever kind you like or have on hand
7 organic free range eggs-fed an organic diet
1/2 c. organic half & half
freshley grated nutmeg (about an 1/8 - 1/4 tsp)
sea salt
freshly ground pepper

Pre-heat oven to 400 to 450 degrees (we have a combo convection/microwave oven in our RV)Place frozen or fresh spinach in crust. Top with cheese.

Beat eggs with half & half, nutmeg, salt and pepper.

Pour egg mixture over spinach and cheese in crust.

Bake for 40-60 minutes. RV ovens are tricky so you will have to watch your quiche. If you used frozen spinach like I did,  it will take longer to cook than if you use fresh spinach.

You can make a quiche with any kind of ingredients that you like, mushrooms, broccoli, bacon, sausage, just cheese... I always use organic ingredients because it is one way I can support  sustainable farming practices with my purchases. Sure it cost more but I choose to pay on the front end instead of on the back end. Visit the Organic Consumers Association's web-site and
learn more about organics. When it comes to meat, we are hyper concious...we look for local free range, hormone free, humanely treated, grass/pasture/organic fed meats. We also eat a lot less meat than we used to eat.  

My family ate conventional food for years until I stopped and took the time to do the research. When I did I uncovered so many things about food. As a former chef, restauranteur and baker my eyes were opened to what is really going on with our food sources. We've been deceived in so many ways! My biggest concern is with GMO's (Genetically Modified Organisms). Only a very small percentage of consumers know about this practice and GMO's are in every form of conventional food. I have many reasons for opposing GMO's but here are five reasons taken from Joel Salatin's book, "Holy Cows and Hog Heaven" in his praise of Jeff Smith's book, "Seeds of Deception" .

Reason #1
It violates God's Plan...Plants should reproduce from their own seed & the seed should germinate true--children should look like their parents. Anyone who has a shred of belief in a Creator's design should dismiss genetic engineering outright (Thank you Joel for saying that!)
GMO's are NOT necessary to feed the world. - There is plenty of research to support this. Read Joel Salatin's and Jeff Smith's books for a better explanantion.
GMO's do NOT create safer food. Why should these entities that do GE (genetic engineering) who lie to their employees, pay way too much money for lobbyists and lie to their customers be trusted to be honest with our food supply. Believe me it is profits before people.
They Cannot be Controlled.
Already we are seeing where organic crops are being tainted by GMO pollen drift.
It enslaves farmers and ANYONE who wants to grow their own food and save seed to patented life forms owned by multi-national corporations. When the US patent office was established one thing that was exempt from being patented was plants but that changed in the 1930's. Should corporations own the rights to seeds? If corporations alter indegenous crop varieties with cross pollination and in turn say that they have the rights to those seeds, is that right?

I urge anyone who consumes food to do the research and decide. For me...the first reason I gave was the only reason thatl I needed. For you it may not be what inspires you to make a change. I figure our grocery bill has increased about $50 a week for making a change to organics...that's about $7 a day. Start out with small...the first thing I switched to was dairy.
It may seem like a lot but when I figure out all of the positive impact that makes, somehow it all seems worth it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Less is More

About four years ago I realized that many aspects of my life that were not working for me were of my own doing. I came to the understanding that we attract circumstances and experiences. Good, bad or however they are perceived, simply  by our way of thinking. This was an epiphany of sorts but it was also the beginning of a descent into an even darker place. A place where I was forced to reconcile my own way of thinking. And in that darkness I found a light...just a tiny pinpoint of light, one that had always been there just sometimes brighter than it was other times. What I also discovered was that staying busy, wishing away, complaining or selling myself out was in no way the avenue to help me attract the situations and experiences that I did want. I even found out that the way I was praying, "Oh! Dear God please don't give me any more of that!" was vibrationally giving me more of what I didn't want. So I began to learn to ask for the situations and experiences I did want.

One of those prayers was, "Please give me less!" Less stuff, less worry, less attachment, less expectations, less criticism, less judgements, less responsibility. I said, "Please allow me to live in a more simple way. A way that will allow more time to just be. A way that opens me up to more different experiences and better relationships." And so it was. The space began to open and I began to experience what less is all about. But everytime during those first three years that I allowed fear or doubt to creep in, things would slow down. A few times, it seemed that my progress towards liberation had come to a complete halt. And again, I would ask and the Universe in all It's wisdom working with all the Universal laws would answer. Things would move and shift in the direction of my desires. Sometimes I would forget and listen to others label the experiences I was going through and buy into the words and the labels. "Oh, that's so ______.", they would say. When secretly I was trying to work on not attaching any emotionality to the process. Ultimately the Universe was responding to my requests. Why should I have been so arrogant to question exactly how things were going to take place? Everything happens for a is only our perception of the way things work that give them either a negative or positive charge. Growth, change, metamorphisis isn't always a walk in the park but when it gets us to where we want to go we discover it's was worth it all along.

I wanted less and now I have less. It feels good. It feels liberating...even though sometimes I think that we still have too much stuff. Annie Leonard's "The Story of Stuff" really propelled my thinking about material things and helped me and my family deal with the attachments that we have to things. During our de-stuffing process there were many times that we stopped to remind ourselves that it was just a "thing". Even since we have been on the road, we have been liberated from a few "things" we thought were important. Always an opportunity to learn and accept more grace. I have also learned that with some relationships, less is more too. We don't always have to always be with or even near loved ones. Sometimes being apart makes the time that is spent together much sweeter. I love abundance, I love the way it flows through an uninterrupted Divine Source. What made up my desire for less were just things, situations and circumstances that needed clearing for me to really receive the kind of abundance I'm in need of most.

Of course, some of the situations and experiences that I have more of now will change over time. Like the time I spend with my children, right now I have more, but someday that will evolve into less. I know this and I celebrate our togetherness now in this moment.  I have always loved the quote, "Be careful what you wish for because you just might get it". I love it because it reminds me on days that I feel too full of children, travel, togetherness, small spaces in the RV or even a sink full of dishes that I don't want to wash that my dreams came true...that I got what I wished for! And in that moment, I say a prayer of gratitude and thankfulness. Oh, and that tiny light? It like to think of it as kinda like a blazing hyperradiant fresnel lens!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Believing in... well, wellness

We are healthy people. We eat good organic food, we wash our hands with plain old soap while we sing the abc's. We get lots of fresh air and spend our thoughts on positive outcomes, ideas and notions. Every once in a while a germ might come along. I've always been respectful of germs, knowing that we need the good ones and sometimes the bad ones to help our beautifully designed systems work the way they are suppose to. Suffice it to say, my kids have eaten their share of dirt. Out of 3 kids only one of them has ever been on an antibiotic. So, when my son mentioned to me the other day that he had not been feeling well, scratchy throat, bit of a cough. I immediately got right on it.

First of all, I ran over to Food for Thought a great organic food/wellness store in Wichita, KS where we are at the moment. As I perused the shelves for some holistic aids for this healing. I picked up a children's liquid echinacea blend, some organic lozenges with zinc, some 1,000 mg vitamin C/B complex powders, some organic throat coat tea. He wasn't running any temperature so I have felt confident that it's just a little seasonal something. I read all of the recommended dosages and make sure he's resting (he's the fiestiest one of the three so having him rest is a chore) and drinking tons of liquids! We haven't been told this over and over for no's true. I have always been a big believer that at the first signs of feeling out of sorts that rest and liquids are the best thing you can do. It seems that so many folks keep pushing themselves until their body just makes them stop. We have been given this internal guidance system for a reason and I believe it is wise to listen to it and heed it's message.

That being said, he is already feeling better. Since we live in such close quarters, everyone is taking a little extra vitamin C and some echinacea. I have been making some good comfort food and we're all resting and listening to our bodies. The mantra..."my body is strong and healthy" is also running around in my head just to tell any of those little germies that I am in a different vibration not willing to allow them to interfere in my process. 

Since we don't watch television or subscribe to any mainstream media we have been concious about not allowing the fear of certain germs out there flying around to lower our resistance or our vibrations for that matter. I have my opinions about innoculations and for now I will keep them to myself~although I do recommend doing a bit of research on the subject.

If you do find yourself allowing this kind of energy into your world...
while you are physically feeling horrible or nuturing someone else who is feeling that way, consider why you might have attracted the experience. If it's one of your children, notice if it's been a long time since you really spent some nuturing time with them, are mom and dad busy all the time, are hugs and attention time shortened due to school starting back, earlier bedtimes, fall sports and such? If it's you that is not feeling well, ask yourself when was the last time you did absolutely nothing, when you layed in bed and slept for 3 days, when was the last time that you spent time just on you? If it's your spouse or partner who is under the weather, wonder when was the last time that they felt really nutured by you, when was the last time you waited on them hand and foot? Or, maybe it is you needing attention from them? It seems kind of silly that it takes something like sickness for our love and compassion to come through for others in our life but think about it...with the busy-ness and doing-ness that we all seem to be focused on all the time...perhaps it is just what the doctor ordered.

I know that our bodies and spirits work together to present to us with opportunities to grow, learn and discover. How often do we push ourselves with obligations, appointments, jobs, activities? Sometimes it seems our internal guidance systems are at work together to get our attention...whether we like it or not.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Chicken Soup IS Really Good for the Soul

I love whole organic, free range, local chickens. If you are still purchasing factory farmed chickens, you really must try a real chicken. A happy chicken really can make all the  difference. To find a local organic, free range chicken visit and find a nice farmer near you to make friends with and buy one or twenty from them.  I know some of you may be vegans or vegetarians and I totally respect that~we eat several meals a week without any meat.

One chicken makes several meals for us...We're at about 4 meals for 4-5 people right now. I say 4-5 because John only eats dinner with us and three of the five of us are kids.  It all starts in my favorite appliance for a tiny RV kitchen, the slow cooker...

I placed the little lady into the cooker for several hours. The golden broth she gave off was the start of some really delicious stock. After getting every bit of meat off the bones, I place the bones, fat and other bits back into my slow cooker along with some organic carrots, celery, onions, garlic and black peppercorns and water. All of these flavors meld into a really, really lovely thing. Using a slow cooker in an RV saves money because most stovetops operate off of propane. When parked at a campground electricity is included in the rate for our spot. 

If my second meal wasn't going to be homemade chicken noodle soup then I would allow the broth to cool, strain it and freeze it for future use. The RV does have a little freezer and I am always amazed at what I can fit in there.  
Our first meal from the chicken was some of the meat topping some really great all organic local portobello mushroom raviolis that we picked up at the Franklin Farmers Market in Franklin, TN and a nice mushroom cream sauce that I made and topped with a bit of chopped walnuts.

So day two, I place the chicken stock into my stock pot. I love my IKEA 365+ stock pot and seriously use it almost every day. Next I add, chopped carrots, celery, onions, frozen peas, and some whole wheat organic rotini for the noodles and a some of the chicken meat that's waiting for me in the fridge. It's fall and one pot meals, soups and stews are practical and easy for our lifestyle. Last night the kids and I returned from their art club class at Wichita's City Art and within 20 minutes or so we had warm, delicious homemade chicken soup. 

Day 3, We had chicken noodle soup for lunch again today...even tastier. Along with a big salad with the most amazing organic apples I have ever had, honey crisp apples, toasted walnuts, organic dried cranberries and a homemade dressing that consisted of:

Easy Homemade Salad Dressing

2 T. organic canola oil
2 T. organic apple cider vinegar
1 small clove of organic garlic minced
1/4 t. of salt
1 T. of local organic honey
A dash of pepper
Place all ingredients in a jar with a lid, shake thoroughly and toss with salad greens.

Making your own salad dressings while cooking/living full-time in a RV is a space saver because you only make as much as you need for the meal and you don't have salad dressing containers taking up space in your tiny refrigerator~also a green tip because you aren't purchasing the packaging!

I still have enough chicken left for another meal.

There is something about homemade, handmade food that nutures our souls. Not only the intent and energy behind the preparation but the thought, intent and energy that goes into organic sustainable ingredients. It all comes together to nourish much more than our bodies. The only rule for cooking for me is love. I'm always making up recipes and combinations, changing one ingredient or another. Cooking is kind of like life, you use the resources you have to make something wonderful and end up loving it.