Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Cooking With Plastic is Just Wrong

                                  Food Network Image on Storing Meat

    I saw this thing online called "REAL EATS," which is kind of a joke. It is making it out that boiling meat in a plastic bag is okay. I wrote and asked about BPA and other chemicals that could leach/migrate into the food itself. So far, I haven't heard back from them.

    Are we "so" lazy that we can't put a piece of meat in the oven? Even the microwave would be healthier than cooking (boiling) with plastic. Plastic is NOT the answer for everything. The "DailyFresh" people have the right idea. They "send"  you the fresh ingredients and you stir fry them up. Much better.

I Miss My Cat


    It's on cold and sunny days like we've had for the past few days that I think of my cat "Sammie" (Samantha, from Samantha Brady of All My Children TV fame, a similar feisty female). Sammie would lie in sun in winter, on our back deck, but also sometimes in our paved driveway, soaking up the rays and the heat while she did what most cats spend a lot of time doing -- sleeping. I suppose that is because they originated in the desert and probably had periods of hibernation. That's "my" guess.

    Sammie had heart trouble (a rapid heart beat that made it almost impossible for her to sleep) and had to be euthanized last November. It was the humane thing to do. I think she'd previously suffered a heart attack. She was fourteen and a half.  Now, when it is sunny, with cold temps and/or a cold wind whipping up, I think it is a Sammie day. 

Tuesday, October 27, 2020

On Pumpkin Bread -- gluten free

                                                      Pumpkin Bread -- YUM



     Pumpkins are associated with autumn, harvest and Halloween. Pumpkin "bread," which is actually a dessert, as opposed to regular baked bread, can be very sweet, very delicious. Strange, because pumpkins are really quite healthy.

     Since pumpkins are orange, they have beta carotene, which becomes Vitamin A -- you know, the carrot vitamin. Vitamin A is good for our skin, eyes, mucus membranes, and ALSO, our immune systems. So that makes pumpkin bread at least "semi" healthy.

      But what if you have a gluten sensitivity, like me? I actually found this great box cake/bread recipe in Kroger (but only once, so far). So I bought it again recently online-- "Simple Mills  Pumpkin Muffin & Bread" mix, with almond flour. It also uses coconut sugar, arrowroot, pumpkin (of course) and the organic spices of  cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves. I don't think I could have made something from scratch this good. I have found that so called "1 to 1" gluten free flours may not be up to the task for something like banana bread or pumpkin bread. But this recipe is great.

     I think I found it on, but you can also get "Simple Mills" pumpkin muffin & bread mix at and thrive market as well. 

    So don't deprive yourself. Get some.  

Monday, September 14, 2020



                         We walked a paved path at Grayson County Recreation Park in Independence

     We took a little trip recently to Claytor Lake, and then wanted to go to Rural Retreat (VA), but the driver (my spouse) didn't "know the way to San Jose" or the Rural Retreat lake and park, so we got lost-- winding up in the small town of Independence.  I understand the town came about in 1850 because two communities were arguing about where to put the county seat, so someone asserted some "independence" in the matter. Our being here, a ways from home during this pandemic, was a bit of a declaration in itself. 

    As we entered the town I noted a faded caboose to the left, part of a small town park near some water. The caboose used to be very important in train travel. It was an office for the conductor and had to do with signalling a brakeman to, well, put on the brakes to stop the darn thing. In the 1980s they found an electronic way to do the latter and the caboose didn't seem needed any longer. I know that my sons have utilized a caboose-- as a place of entertainment, for birthday parties, which seems kind of silly.  And they're housed at parks so families can go and see, well, this was part of a train!

     We couldn't find the part we were looking for, but after a meal at Aunt Bee's -- my spouse says the Aunt Bee's in Hillsville is more like a restaurant than the fast food place we visited, booths marked off and people wearing masks-- we asked directions of a woman and "found" a park to go to!

     The Grayson County Rec Park didn't look too big, and had a nice, mostly level trail a short ways from the pool that had kids yelling and rock music blaring. I guess they were having fun (though maybe it wasn't all that safe with the coronavirus still around). Our trail was pleasant, partly shaded, with various wildflowers along the banks, such as ferns, vervain, goldenrod,  maybe also lobelia?

     We passed a lot of barns, wingstem wildflowers, some political signs, small homes,  and church steeples. My spouse "swears" that this Rural Retreat park could be found at an intersection or crossing where there was a white church.  We probably passed three or four churches, and no intersection. So much for finding "that" park. We got a bit of exercise and got out of the house for three or four hours, so that was an accomplishment, right? 

Monday, April 20, 2020

Getting Out of House During Coronavirus -- Claytor Lake wetlands

These are trying times -- and you can go bonkers in you stay in the house too long. So I decided, as a Master naturalist, to monitor  wetlands/vernal pools  near the entrance to Claytor Lake State Park.
     Some call them wetlands, or vernal (spring) pools. Most vernal pools don't stick around, and only last a few months, virus or not. Why? These special wetlands are an important                                                        
part of the food web. Frogs show up and "sing" for their female mates. And salamanders also make an appearance, bringing chemical "pheromones" into play, this glandular substance attracting the girlfriend as he waggles his tail in a mating dance. 
     Female salamanders will then lay fertilized eggs that are stuck deep in the water, attached to a branch. Female frogs create a mass of eggs that linger on the wetland's surface. The critters leave the wetland and go into the woods, where they become food for "bigger" animals, from foxes to bobcats, even birds and snakes.
     We NEED wetlands (or ponds, which is a year round pool with trees and other vegetation in it), to keep the food web going. And the pond I visited did have signs of critters.  I noticed a little gray backed (probably a painted) turtle or two, briefly sunning themselves on a big log before they saw us and scooted into the water and disappeared. Then there was a "schoosh" and splash, briefly followed by what appeared to be a squeak. It sounded like the squeak of a baby toy, which was kind of cute. It was so fast I could only barely make out that the long legs of a frog were involved. 
     And my feet (darn it) got wet! I should have worn my waders boots, perfect for getting closer to my wetland critters. It was sunny and calm, a perfect day to get out of the house, and still be away from people (because of COVID-19), and get close to nature! 

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

At Wasena Park in spite of Coronavirus

                      Bridge that goes across Roanoke River at Wasena Park in city of Roanoke.

       I took into account the fact that we were driving 40 miles away to Roanoke and that our restaurant gift certificate would only entitle us to a "takeout" meal. So I thought, what the heck, it was supposed to be kind of warm, and on Google maps I eyed a nearby park. I thought, hey, let's try out Wasena Park.
    I understand the name "Wasena" comes from a Native American wfor "beautiful view," and I think you can say that for the part of the Roanoke River flowing by it. After picking up restaurant meals at Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen at the Valley View Mall, we followed directions and roads I'd seen on Google Maps. It was down Orange Avenue, which, oddly, had a lot of white blossom cherry trees "snowing" their petals down on the road, this being the first full day of spring. Then I believe we quickly hit Franklin and then Elm Avenue. In no time at all we were crossing the bridge that went over the river.
    But we somehow missed Winchester (Ave/St) and hit Main Street (which eventually takes you to Rt. 419/Electric Rd) and I knew we'd gone too far because the river was to our left. So we stopped by a store and asked a young woman where to go. We had missed the right turn just off the bridge, so we took that, THEN we hit Winchester and the entrance to this roomy park, with its modern playground and old rail road tracks (but no train in sight -- the official railroad was across then above Roanoke River).
     And though we were in the midst of an epidemic, there must have been a dozen or so people taking in the almost 70 degree weather, even as the clouds darkened and rain threatened. One woman, almost skeletally thin, with a loose blue polyester sweater hanging off of her, commented it was a good idea, taking our meals --- the spouse dug into a smokehouse burger and I ate my tasty blackened salmon with rice and broccoli --- outside on a picnic table the newspaper said had been sanitized earlier in the week. (Well, the restaurants won't "let you" eat inside so this is our option, and we weren't close to anyone, unless they happened to jog by, which I hoped was okay.)
     After our meal we ventured toward the river and the rust brown bridge that looked like a former train trestle. With the coronavirus, walking is one of the few things you can do for entertainment. So we spied in some spots churning, fast flowing water and headed toward some of the so-called Greenway. But the spouse wasn't wearing his walking shoes, so he went back, but not before we came upon a little meadow of marsh marigolds (THAT was my observation) close to the edge of the water.
     As he walked back I noted other spring beauties, like Shepherd's purse, Pennsylvania creases (some here and on the other side, the park side), a few lone, delicate violets (which are actually edible), a few dandelions coming up early. We had a warmer than normal winter so these wildflowers were blooming rather early.
     There was also a short walkway off the Greenway with odd sculptures in bronze, wood. It was very nice to be outside, early spring an optimistic showing of nature, though the nature of the virus is really rather ominous, worrisome. 
     We are back home and guess we will stay here (except taking my sister to the grocery store and maybe a trip to the college library, which has only a few people in it at this point).

Monday, October 14, 2019

Tea Bags, Kidney Stones, and Health

     When the spouse found out that he had a kidney stone I learned a thing or two about that particular health issue. It's important to drink a lot of fluids to clean out your system. I had a friend who was told by her doctor to give her ailing husband lemonade to help his kidneys, which is apparently better than cranberry juice.
    But when you "do" drink a lot of fluids, the more natural the better. Soda, whether with sugar or "fake" sugar, has a lot of chemicals in it. That's a lot of extra work for your liver and kidneys; water or tea is better. But tea isn't perfect either. Some tea bags actually have plastic fibers (!) in them. That sucks. But Lipton has assured the writer of  one blog,"Https://," that its bags are compostable and therefore, do NOT have plastic. That's a relief to know!