Friday, November 20, 2009


This week and the past few weeks have been a time of sisterhood for me. Not just with my biological sister who I love deeply and profoundly but sisters who I have known for many years and some newly rediscovered sisters. Sisters that may look or even sound different than me but my sisters none the less.

One sister who has been my sister since we were 11 years old has brought a new soul into this world. A tiny baby, a new life, a million possibilities. Another sister who is watching her child, her beautiful vibrant young daughter who she birthed into this world transition into another world. Joy...Pain. Connection...Separation. Smiles...tears. My own heart burst with joy for one and breaks for the other. One sister a part of my life since before I knew what it was to be a woman, mother and even a lover. Before I understood concepts like life and death and God and the true meaning of love. The other a newer sister, surprisingly enough, one who our original connection began on the internet. Who our connection began with our mutual desire to bring more light into the world through our spirits.

I celebrate the life of her daughter of whom she was so proud. I celebrate her daughter's light and acknowledge that what we perceive as physical death is merely a transition of spirit. My sister and I know these truths and together this will help in the healing days to come. My other sister with the new life that she always wanted but after forty thought that perhaps her chances for becoming a mother where through cuddles and coos over this baby and all of the mysteries that accompany new motherhood.

Then there is my former sister-in-law who I have been staying with this week. My brother's former wife who will always be my sister. My children's aunt and the mother of my nephews. This sister who experiences the struggles of single parenthood but loves her children fiercely and wants the best for them. This sister who opens her home to my children and I who cooks for us and watches my children so I can go and be with the new mother and the grieving mother. She too is my sister.

I have two new sisters whom I connected with via another through the internet and I watch as they come into my circle of influence and comfort that we as sisters give one another. Over the past year or so I have reconnected with a sister, I had lost...a sister who was my roommate. Now as we sit and chat while our children form their own bonds with one another and make friendships that we hope will last their lifetimes. She too is my sister.

As I write this I realize how many sisters I many on so many different levels. The beautiful young women who worked in my bakery while in college and  now are my sisters. Growing up, getting married, becoming mothers. I am so full of love and appreciation for all of these incredible woman to who I rely on for support and who I try to support in my own way. I honor you sisters for your inner beauty, your strength, your resilience, your inner light and the unconditional love that you give me. It is through our ability to love one another, to acknowledge our differences and our commonalities to interconnect ourselves in ways that assist us on our paths. I am laughing thinking about when the words,"So many men, so little time." might have passed through my lips. Now I'm thinking, "So many sisters, so little time." would be something I would say instead. Through our experiences we laugh, we cry, we celebrate, we talk, we hug, we keep in our hearts the sacred space of sisterhood that has no beginning and no end. It is birthless, deathless these bonds we form perhaps in a place before we knew this place. Like we were always together.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A day at the Farm and Taking Back the F-Word

So here I am always talking about the local food, where it comes from who grows it, how we get it and all of that fascinating stuff. My friend Bo and I were talking the other day about how everything is energy and when the energy put into food, the growing of it, the stewardship of the animals is negative or just a job to the people who touch our food before we get it... that the energy somehow attaches itself to the food. Then we ingest the food. Taking all of that energy with it and perhaps that energy attaches itself to our energy. Now What? Dis-ease, depression a whole laundry list of crazy things could possibly happen to one's body.

Today the kids and I drove to meet another friend named Tricia to work for the day at a local organic farm in the Sequatchie Valley of Tennessee called Sequatchie Cove Farm. What an incredibly gorgeous November day in Tennessee! The sky was such an amazing shade of blue with absolutely not a cloud in the sky. Many of the trees still have their leaves on them as we drove down I-24 early this morning I appreciated all the different shades of dark brown, golden yellow and deep red as we passed. I had heard many wonderful stories about this farm but had not had the opportunity to visit there until today. Our GPS took us down some little winding country roads until we found a handmade sign with the street name we were searching for and another hand made sign that said, "Please DO NOT drop off DOGS here!"

We pulled up and found a place to park and walked over to a field to find some folks working. There were two adults and two kids. The kids are local homeschooled kids who work every thursday on the farm. I actually knew one of the adults a really wonderful guy my husband and I had met at SVI back in May of 2008 before we became a Family on the Road and the other adult was Padgett from the farm. Everyone was pulling up dead plant material and making a pile. Much to my children's pleasure there were many farm dogs already present. We all worked together, talking laughing and as the sun warmed up we found ourselves shedding our jackets and sweaters. My friend, Tricia was working in another field picking arugula with two other ladies. 

When we finished in the areas we were working, we all met up at the trading post part of the farm. Arugula was being washed and dried. In the area where we had been doing fall clean up work so a cover crop could be planted there had been some sorghum stalks that were beautiful purply green and pale yellow. We had cut the sorghum and tied it up on poles of  the porch of the trading post for decoration. Everyone was talking and sharing recipes and ideas about food. The kids were learning all of the names of all of the dogs running around. And it struck me in a place deep down in my soul...this is the kind of place where everyone's food should come from. Not some sterile flourescently lit showcase of psuedo food that's made up of 59 different configurations of genetically modified corn products. But a place like this where folks in the community work together, where people smile, laugh and sweat together. Where people put passion into what is grown and sold.

Later all of us jumped on the back of the truck with several dogs and all the kids and rode out to a field still basking in the serenity of the intensely blue sky. Padgett the super cool and really nice farm lady who was thrilled to have so many helping hands gave us all tasks to do. Everyone worked together taking down the trellises for the pepper plants. My gypsy daughter delighted in picking peppers and filling up her skirt as she danced down the garden rows to place them into the baskets. One of my 10 yr. old sons was relishing every moment and every little new thing he was being shown how to do out in that field today. The other one was devising ways to turn his hoodie backwards to provide him with a place to put picked produce.

 And again it struck me in a place deep down in my soul...places like this are where and how food is suppose to be cultivated. Places where people WANT to be there, places where joy abounds! Because it's all energy and that energy is attached to that food. And Oh! God! Yes! I want to eat JOY! I don't want to eat "I hate my job" or "I'm treated like a slave" food. I mean I'm not even gonna address chemical fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, overprocessed, GMO, antibiotic, hormone added, plastic wrapped, flourescent lit, mass produced, shipped 1K mile food. I'm just talking about the pure energy and intent behind the food. Is food handled by a beautiful human that has joy in their heart going to nourish and heal me or is food handled by metal, machines and slave labor going to nourish me body and soul?

As a gypsy mama I can tell you that these little local sustainable farmers are EVERYWHERE. You just have to open your eyes and look, it might take a little planning or effort but what in life that's worth something doesn't require a little effort. Every growing season more and more of them are popping up to fill the need where our bodies and our souls are screaming out for this kind of real food. Real farmers. Real families.
Cooking, eating, bowing our heads and blessing and showing thanks for something so visceral, so basic that we can't live without it...the thing that nourishes us. So we left today with some fantastic farm food and a new bumpersticker for our truck that says, "Take Back the F-Word...Real Food, Real Farms, Real People" Thank you Bill Keener of Sequatchie Cove Farm for that...thank you for caring about Food, about Farms, and about Family these are some F-Words I can get behind!. 

I want to end this with the blessing my future organic farmer 10 yr.old son read as we bowed our heads in thanksgiving tonight:
Ghandi once said, "What I am concerned with is my readiness to obey the call of Truth, my God, from moment to moment, no matter how inconsistent it may appear. My commitment is to Truth, not to consistency." May we, like Ghandi, see our lives as a series of experiments with the truth and make every effort to align our choices with the deeper truths of the universe.

I was so into enjoying every moment of this delicious day that I forgot to take pictures with my regular camera but did capture a few pics on my cell phone that are on my if you want to see!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Farm Market Food Shopping for Everyone!!

Although it's late in the growing season the local farmers are still producing some great late season veggies. If your local farm market hasn't closed yet or your CSA has a winter CSA it's a great lesson in eating seasonally. Fall greens, root  vegetables and squashes are full of dark green, oranges and reds. The darker the color the more nutrition you are getting. I think it also opens us up to trying new and different varieties of foods that we might not try otherwise. When you are a gypsy mama it can be difficult to belong to a  CSA because we are usually never in  one place long enough to join one. That however doesn't deter us from seeking our homegrown, locally produced food. The food movement is on! And we haven't traveled to a place yet that didn't have a way for us to seek out and find the best of what this country has to offer. Industrial farming in unnatural and even the organics found in supermarkets and big box stores are shipped from far far away from where you buy them. Imagine purchasing fresh vegetables that were grown, nutured and  picked with loving care only hours before you receive them, instead of days and thousands of miles possibly from their source. These real food farm markets we are finding are carrying all of the things we purchase on a weekly basis...dairy (including milk, cream, eggs & cheese), animal meats that are raised and fed the way nature intended, fruits, vegetables, canned and preserved goods (jams, jellies, pickles, relishes) and many baked goods too. The Franklin Farmer's Market we attended yesterday has all types of artisans too, clothing, knitted items, jewelry, musicians and lots of wonderful people with their dogs walking around shopping supporting local agriculture. This was our second visit to this market as the gyspy husband's company was working in this area before.

This gypsy mama knows that the heartbeat of the communties we visit through our travels are at these farm markets. We make it a point to search for local. For example we wanted pizza Friday night, we wanted it locally owned and operated. I even called a old friend who has lived in the area we are in for years to get a recommendation. Unfortunately, all he could suggest were two chains. I finally found one by googling "Locally Owned Pizza" and the name of the city and state. We found a great little local place and we're very happy with and the pizza was really good, plus we felt good about supporting a local restauranteur.

Here are some photos of our wonderful finds from the farmer's market, I am looking forward to turning all of this beautiful food into some delicious meals. I just know that with ingredients like this not only will our bodies be nourished but our souls as well.

One More Pumpkin Creation

In my little RV refrigerator sat a mason jar with more pureed pumpkin. Another creation waiting to happen.
Some kind of bar cookie with pumpkin was rolling around inside my gypsy mama head just waiting to be birthed into a yummy creation. The gypsy kids are always wanting a treat and I am learning and enjoying eating and cooking more and more seasonally. It is still pumpkin time! So here is what I came up with:

Note: If  you like really sweet stuff this is not super sweet..I suppose you could adjust the amount of sugar but I try to keep the sugar consumption down as much as possible. All ingredients are organic...yes, I know it cost more.

Gypsy Mama Pumpkin Bar Cookies

Crust & Topping
3/4 C. Organic Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
1/2 C. Organic Rolled Oats
5 T. Organic Butter/break up into pieces...use substitute if vegan
1/4 C. Organic Brown Sugar
1/2 C. shelled pumpkin seeds/pepitas

1/3 softened Organic Cream Cheese/could use silken tofu or vegan equivalent
1 1/4 C. of pumpkin puree
1/4 C. of Brown Sugar
1 egg/use any binder for vegan
1/4 tsp. fresh ginger root ground
1/4 tsp. of cinnamon, ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg
You could use 1 tsp. of pumpkin pie substitute for the above spices
1 T. Molasses
Pinch of Salt

Combine Crust ingredients,

 using your fingers (or a pastry blender or two knives) work the butter into the flour, oats, sugar until it resembles a crumbly mixture. Reserve 1/4 of the mixture for the topping.

Press the crust mixture into an 8x8 square pan.

Combine filling ingredients and pour on top of crust. Sprinkle remaining crumbly crust mixture on top of filling evenly. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.* Let cool completely before cutting the filling will set up upon cooling.

*All of my baking times and temperatures are suspect because I bake in a tiny microwave/convection oven combo in my RV. If you are using any other type oven probably would be a good idea to watch what you are baking carefully and make adjustments based on your oven.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Pumpkin promised!

Remember my post the other day about pumpkin? The Gypsy Mama came up with some pretty great cookies and...PUMPKIN CHILI!! Yep, that's right Pumpkin Chili and it was delicious...I'll share the recipes with you!

Here's the recipes: ALL INGREDIENTS are ORGANIC...yes, we know it costs more.

The gypsy kids named these cookies:

Fall Harvest Cookies~These cookies are dense almost like a thick rich biscuit!!

1 1/2 C. whole wheat organic pastry flour
1 1/2 C. organic all purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt.
1/4 tsp. cinnamon, ground cloves, freshly grated nutmeg

6 T. organic butter, softened
1/2 C. organic sugar
1/2 C. organic brown sugar
1/2 C. pureed pumpkin
2 T. milk
1 egg
1/2 tsp. fresh ground ginger
1/2 C. chopped pecans
1/4 - 1/2 C. dried cranberries or golden raisins

Sift your dry ingredients (except sugars) together. Cream butter & sugars, then add pumpkin. Add the milk, egg and ginger. Add dry ingredients in thirds and lastly add fruit and nuts. Dough will be stiff.
Bake 375 degrees for 10-14 minutes. (Keep in mind we have a tiny micro/convection oven  in the RV so you may want to adjust time and temperature for your oven)

Didn't take pictures of the chili but trust me it is really, really good.

Gypsy Mama Pumpkin Spice Chili
1/2 green pepper chopped
1 medium onion chopped
2 cloves of garlic minced
2 stalks of celery chopped
2 cups of pumpkin puree (if you used canned make sure it's not pumpkin pie mix-even though that might be good too)
1 large can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 tsp. cumin, cinnamon, chili powder
1 tsp. chipolte chile powder
1 16 oz. can of chili beans
1 16 oz. can of red kidney beans
1 16 oz. can of  mixed beans (black, navy, pintos)
1/2 cup vegetable protein granuales (or bulgar wheat, ground beef, tofu crumbles)
I'm now on the fence about that other stuff that has 3 letters starting with T and ending with P because I've discovered it's copyrighted and trademarked by a huge food conglomerate...the grocery store to the world people and is probably all GMO!!

Put in a slow cooker on low for 6 hrs. or high for 4 hours or cook on your stovetop. Enjoy!!

The Gypsy Mama's family loves to say something nice before every meal...we love this book, "A Grateful Heart" edited by MJ Ryan. Blessing our meals with beautiful words always makes everything taste just a little bit better! Here's a sample from the book:

May all things move and be moved in me
and know and be known in me
May all creation
dance for joy within me.
-Chinook Psalter

Revisiting a Classic

I know that I was assigned many classical literature books in high school or college but sometimes a book has to find you before you can find yourself in the book. So over the last year or so…since I became a gypsy mama and gave up the suck your brain out of your head box otherwise known as the television, I have revisited some classics.

I just completed reading John Steinbeck’s, “Grapes of Wrath” and so many things are standing out to me in this book. I have been reading passages out of the book to my children. Not the passages that tell the story of the Joad family but the passages where Steinbeck talks about what is happening with the small family farms during the 1930’s. The passages where Steinbeck comments on the farming industry. While reading these passages and rereading them I am coming to the realization that this is the time period when the concept of “factory farms” starts. This is when it all began….and now we are coming full circle and starting to see the impact of what has been happening over the last eighty years or more.

This book was a pretty big hit when it was published and a lot of folks were pretty upset with Steinbeck’s commentary. This is a story about the great depression that took place in the 1930’s but it’s also about the beginning of factory farming, the beginning of the disconnect between man and earth and food. Did anyone else get this then? Have all the people that have been reading this great piece of literature taken note of this? And if we did notice why has it taken us so long to do something about it?

The food movement that is happening in this country is one of  the most important issues we face today. Food is what sustains us, food is what nourishes us, food brings us together when we celebrate and when we mourn. The energy that goes into how food is grown comes to us when we eat it and through us. No wonder so many people are on anti-depressants.  The attitude and the intent behind the growing of the food all the way to the preparation and the serving of the food is some powerful stuff.

I want to put a passage from the book here for you to read:

From "The Grapes of Wrath" by John Steinbeck

He loved the land no more than the bank loved the land. He could admire the tractor - its machined surfaces, its surge of power, the roar of its detonating cylinders; but it was not his tractor. Behind the tractor rolled the shining disks, cutting the earth with blades -- not plowing but surgery, pushing the cut earth to the right where the second row of disks cut it and pushed it to the left; slicing blades shining, polished by the cut earth. And pulled behind the disks, the harrows combing with iron teeth so that the little clods broke up and the earth lay smooth. Behind the harrows, the long seeders -- twelve curved iron penes erected in the foundry, orgasms set by gears, raping methodically, raping without passion. The driver sat in his iron seat and he was proud of the straight lines he did not will, proud of the tractor he did not own or love, proud of the power he could not control. And when that crop grew, and was harvested, no man had crumbled a hot clod in his fingers and let the earth sift past his fingertips. No man had touched the seed, or lusted for the growth. Men ate what they had not raised, had no connection with the bread. The land bore under iron, and under iron gradually died; for it was not loved or hated, it had no prayers or curses.

Passionless. Loveless. Factory farms are not about love or passion. They are only about profits...the bottom line, regardless of the true costs.  Local small farmers are passionate about what they do…sure they want to make a profit, after all they must generate an income too but they do it with thought to the land, thought for the sustenance they provide. It is done with intent and reverence. Talk to a local producer at the farm market…they have passion in their eyes, in their voice and in their hearts. Over the past year or so we have met many local, sustainable agriculture farmers. Real farmers…from Joel Salatin to Jason Mann and I am telling you these are the people we want growing our food!

Folks who care about the kind of food they help to co-create. Personally this gypsy mama & her brood went from being a conventional processed food family to basically 100% organic. Always searching for local sustainable agriculture while we're on the road. We went from eating at the arches to vowing never to eat fast food again…ever.

At this time of Thanksgiving when we are all poised to gather for a meal that has so much thought and intent that goes into the planning and the preparation, I pause to reflect the gratitiude that I have for the food. Consider the passion, consider the love, consider the intent.