Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Garlic in Winter Recipe


In America where many languages have converged, this method of frying an egg seems to have originally been called Gasthaus (or inn.) That name went through the tin-can-telephone of verbal transmission, and became "gashouse."

A gashouse egg is basically pan toast, bread slices browned in butter, whether over a campfire or in one's kitchen. Cutting a hole in the middle makes room for an egg. 

In this morning's breakfast variation, I pressed a clove of garlic into the buttery openings of two pieces of gluten-free bread, and then cracked the eggs, with hearty result.


The pan was large enough for a side of baby spinach. Squeezing the last bit of the garlic there, I stirred it around with a small splash of olive oil, and added the greenery.

After cracking the egg(s), let the bottom solidify and flip toast and egg. When toasty on both sides, remove to warmed plate(s) and drizzle the spinach with balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle all with Himalayan sea salt and freshly ground pepper.

Why garlic breath, and at breakfast, for goodness sake?

It's a miserable flu season; people are dropping like bowling pins. Often too cold outside to linger, we're getting less Vitamin D from low-angled Northern Hemisphere sunlight. Immune systems may be less robust.

Garlic is nature's antibiotic.

Back in Ellis Island days when Steerage Class immigrants to America were vetted for diseases before admittance to the golden shores, garlic breath was considered low class!

There are so many ways of behaving like idiots, that pejorative being one.

Garlic builds immune strength and protects against microbes of every persuasion. Some cardiologists recommend garlic in lieu of toxic statins, fyi.

Choose organic garlic as it's higher in medicinal components. Also, be aware: root crops concentrate AgBiz poisons. Think, garlic, potatoes, beets, turnips, carrots, yams, etc. with higher than "normal" toxic load.

I used to recommend capsules of organic garlic from Japan, but no more. That beautiful land lies Fukushima-blighted, its effluent gushing across the Pacific.

We do the best we can, and organic garlic is a wonder of nature, building stamina and health of heart, blood, gonads and lymph. 

It's an old folk remedy for parasites, in humans and in animals, both pets and livestock. Garlic was included in the daily rations of the Roman Legions.


(Chewing cardamon seeds or a mint leaf helps with the Mediterranean breath! And also digestion.)

Herbal Lore Recipes
 5-Star Stories:

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Brown Ink, Flu & Garlic


As the medicinal plant person on a book project, I was granted access to the University archives. Some of what I gleaned may be useful to us in present time, with nasty flu on the prowl.

Work in the archives meant pulling on surgical gloves and requesting early Pharmacopoeias and frontier journals from the beady-eyed Librarian. She served as mother hen over irreplaceable resources.

I'd stagger with armloads of research to a long table and settle in. The Pharmacopoeias opened to centuries-ago journeys on foot, horseback and by canoe. 

Herbal lore of Native Americans was included in those early days, first the coastal and Canadian tribes, then inland and over the Appalachians into wildly new flora (and fauna!)

The fragile, old journals particularly moved me. Their brown ink had been quill-penned, and was hand-made of oak galls: http://www.instructables.com/id/Making-Iron-Gall-Ink/ 

In those days penmanship was taught, a "copperplate" script, which one of my grandmothers still wrote.

Spelling was idiosyncratic; there was no school system per se

Those few children who learned to read in the American wilderness were taught from the Family Bible or in one room log schoolhouses heated by fireplace or pot-bellied stove. 

Kit Carson, notorious agent of Manifest Destiny, for example, hobnobbed with presidents, but was quite illiterate, though fluent in many frontier languages. 

(He was married to a Native American woman till she divorced him by throwing his gear out of the teepee, and then, to a young Spanish beauty!)

Frontier physicians of variable training visited patients at the end of forested trails and river fords, on horseback or buggy, carrying surgical instruments (saws...) and medicament.

A recommendation for ague, pneumonia, high fevers, which I read in a physician's hand-written, leather-bound journal, was to save a twentieth century girl years later. Or so it seemed.

A modern MD had told a mother that her daughter could not chance another severe reaction to antibiotics: Find organically raised meat.

I had an organic farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which was how the mother found me.

Had just dashed in from tractor work, intending to grab a bite of lunch when I picked up the long-ringing telephone, to hysteria.

My friend's daughter had been diagnosed by their family physician with scarlet fever. The Mom was leery of hospitals and brought the girl home to hopefully sweat it out. 

The fever was still rising; would I come?

I sat down.

"Are you there?" she shouted.

"Yes. Thinking... I'm on the way. Here's what you do..."

I mixed a small bottle of olive oil with anti-microbial essential oils and went roaring down the mountain to the Carolina Piedmont.

In the frontier physician's journal, lard was used. I had instructed the mother to peel and crush the cloves of a  garlic bulb, one large or two small, and stir it into a jar of cold cream.  

The girl by now was not conscious.

I opened my bodywork table; we spread sheets and lifted her. I smeared the medicinal oil I'd made all over her, front and back. We piled on quilts and comforters, hoping to induce a sweat.

Then, the pièce de résistance: Garlic functions as a natural antibiotic. 

I packed the garlicky cold cream onto the soles of her feet, and soles only; it's caustic to tender flesh. Covered it with a strip of plastic wrap and pulled on heavy socks.

We sat with her. When her eyelids fluttered, we raised her head and gave her spoonfuls of lemon water. Suddenly she began to sweat profusely and drenched the bedding. We brought fresh. 

When she finally came to, we got her to bed, garlic poultices still in place. She slept the better part of a day and night, and woke quite well.

Now, for me personally, this was a terrifying experience. What if the girl had died? 

That said, and this absolutely is NOT medical advice, having organic garlic bulbs on hand is not a bad idea. In interesting times.

Garlic might be used in a poultice or in preparing Thieves Vinegar, also good to have on hand:

Wayfarer's Farm Recipes:

Sunday, January 11, 2015

North Wind

 geraint smith, iconic Taos photog

Snow remains; more is expected. Peculiar fog has cloaked high elevations in the Rockies.

Given the usual bounty of golden light in these mountains, many homes have rooftop solar voltaic cells, above the dense thermal mass of mud-brown adobe walls.

With recent days of fog and heavy chemtrails, I know an off-grid, adobe-dwelling friend has grown uneasy and careful of turning on her low wattage light bulbs. Her home is round and snug and heated with a beautiful old Jøtul woodstove.

Frank Lloyd Wright had decried obtrusive discordant structures dominating their landscapes, even before McMansions! He sited homes below the crest of a hill for example.

The ancient pueblos here seem to rise from deeper than we know, a kiva-delved land.

How precariously we nest on this wild planet. If it's covered with asphalt and cement and honking taxis, we tend to forget the living earth beneath our feet, and waters supporting our wee boats on the vast sea.

I read this morning about Inuit elders emailing NASA, concerned about the disturbing Arctic skies, sun and moon rising differently and weather impossible to predict, not a casual issue in the Far North.

The juxtaposition of Inuit oral history knowledge and HAARP tickled my whimsy bone. Will "we" listen?

There's talk among pilots of magnetic north gone walkabout and coordinates being quietly changed on runways. We on earth who may resist change find ourselves smack-dab in the midst of it.

Meanwhile, the carbon-credits global-warming scam has gone the way of the north wind.

Tonight, I'll light the twigs and logs ready in the kiva fireplace, sip lemon verbena/rooibos/honeybush tea, and read as the snow falls.

Good to be alive, though "normal" ground may feel a bit shaky.


Wayfarer Book Stories:

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Footprints in the Snow

Snow-Artist Simon Beck, France

Fresh Christmas snow; I set out walking. The low sun angle strikes brilliant snow crystals into flashes of color, violet and red, bright blue and green, sparks of golden yellow. Fire from the cold.

After days of dismal cloud and single digit nights, snow fell, bleak of winter, and today cerulean blue, the mountain air dances with energy, with prana sparkles.

Just a little stillness; stop awhile and gawk... and the air is suddenly alive, and has been, but how often do we stop to notice?

People come to the mountains in part for the light and the radiant energy which cities occlude. One day we'll realize that our urban cell and microwave towers snuff out the life force of the land. And possibly the people!

I crunched along on my outdoorsy adventure, following the loping paw prints of a coyote.


They howl and yip in the night here. Saw deer and jack rabbit tracks. And finally, oh finally, no bear paws. Hibernation at last:


Also watched canine prints dancing around the linear plod of the owner. Dogs released from bad weather captivity run wild, nose in the snow like a plow. They lie on their backs and make snow angels and woof for doggie joy.

When I had the farm in the Blue Ridge Mts. where snow drifted deeply, my Norwegian elkhound hunted. Slimmer pickings in winter, but he'd lunge into drifts tracking tunnels invisible to sight.

The drift would swell, go walkabout and mound as his nose found the rodent trail.  Bursting out of the bank, a furry exultant primeval, he'd show me his catch, all but grinning.

I remember farm Christmases and the sound of children's laughter.


December is waning, season of celebration, the feasts of light, short muted days and lingering slumber.

In the long dark, wealth simplifies down to basics, warmth and a good woodpile, the honey scent of beeswax candles, heart-light of family and trustworthy friends, shared mugs of tea and bowls of hearty stew.

The wise among us, in all the world's sham and folly, still nurture life's simple joys.

A Happy New Year to us all, all over the world.

Stories read aloud,
My hearth to yours:

Friday, December 19, 2014

Contentment & Debt


I stood in the toy and candy aisle of the "Five and Dime" with my aunt and younger cousins. Small change could buy several treasures to delight a child, when our currency was not yet utterly debauched.

We frequented Mom & Pop stores as community gathering places, variety shops with something of everything:

Needle and thread, liniment, soap, penny candy, a jack-in-the-box, a root beer float, local news, thumb tacks, notebooks, clothes line, socks.... And more, with a long-handled pincer tool to reach the tallest shelves.

A special day, my aunt handed a dollar bill into each cousin's grubby paw. We'd been playing in the dirt.

When I looked crestfallen, she rummaged in her pocketbook again and handed me a dollar. She's still a kind-heart.

That was our limit. Help each other do the math. It has to add up to a dollar or less. She beamed at our agony and ecstasy of decision-making and went off to do her own shopping.

We kids pounced on treats, yes/no/maybe, did our tallies and paid within budget, all but strutting our acumen!

Years later, I had a trust fund client who slouched in doing a model-impersonation on entry. Nice, but I sat pondering her eating disorder and various out-of-control behaviors.

With nutritional malabsorption, she never felt satisfied, in any way. That template had a shaky emotional foundation.

She absolutely refused to prepare food at home, out of fury at her parents who had handed her to servants and walked away.

She spent lavish money as an act of revenge; they owed it to her. (Latch-key kids can grow into some dismal swamp variation on that theme.)

Trust Fund-ette routinely maxed her enormous-balance credit card, and all but spat like a cornered feline. Yet neither spending nor the things money bought had ever filled her void.

Which brings me to Black Monday, and our debt-based societal dam-burst to lay schlock and electronics under the plastic Christmas trees.

Remember Kurt Vonnegut? He had this to say:

True story, Word of Honor: 

Joseph Heller, an important and funny writer now dead, and I were at a party given by a billionaire on Shelter Island.

I said, "Joe, how does it make you feel to know that our host only yesterday may have made more money than your novel 'Catch-22' has earned in its entire history?"

And Joe said, "I've got something he can never have." 

And I said, "What on earth could that be, Joe?"

And Joe said, "The knowledge that I've got enough." 

Journey for all seasons:
Whale Rider of the Tide
Call to Adventure

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Winter Dark & Light


Night falls; we turn on lights and electronics, extending day in the dark of the year. And what a boon, though an oddment in seasonal and circadian rhythms. Do we sleep as well as our ancestors did?  I wonder.

In light pollution cities especially, we haven't much awareness beyond the street corner. We miss stars wheeling and meteor showers, and the long contemplative nights of Northern Hemisphere winter.

Out walking on a recent chilly morning, snow lingering on north slopes and sides of conifers, I stopped to admire second year woody stalks of mullein (Verbascum thapsus) on a steep bank. And thought about light!

The flower stalks had elongated and bloomed bright yellow, a grandmother herb, the petals steeped in oil for earache. 


Birds savor the autumnal seed, and the dried stalks were gathered for winter infrastructure before whale oil lamps and Thomas Edison. 

Dipped in fat, they were burned as torches in the long ago when wolves howled and things went bump in the winter's night.

winning photo 2012

Mullein's first-year rosette of gray-green velvety summer leaves were once collected and used for body warmth: shoe-insoles in medieval Europe!


Night falls, in this era of compact fluorescents and plasma screens, and we don't know it on a body level, nor the apparent miracle of light returning on the Winter Solstice.

The worldwide and ancient feasts of light, may seem a little fatuous in our facsimile world of 24 hour light. We dust off plastic garlands, wreaths and trees, with little sense of the night hours increasing.

On an obliquely related note, I've never cared for ornamental dogs with pea-brains. I value the intelligence of working dogs; a Norwegian elkhound guarded my organic farm, livestock, plantings and me.

My attitude toward yip-yips settled into bedrock early on when my dad and I went looking for a real Christmas tree in ticky-tacky California.

I had been fortunate as a child to roam forests in a simpler time, and on our Christmas tree search, Father and I could not find a plain green tree! Went to several lots before we did. 

Conifers were "flocked" that year: a faux-snow in cerise, chartreuse or purple! 

I was already in agony when a woman drove up in a Cadillac, a toy poodle on her arm, the creature's tufties festively red-ribboned. To complete the ensemble, it sported a rhinestone collar. (I think it was rhinestone, but in la la land, who knows?) 

She pushed to the front of the line and demanded a flocked tree, a special order: to be dyed charcoal-gray to match her poodle! 

Daddy and I blinked, bought a pitiful un-flocked pine and fled...

Down home in the here and now, how do we honor the light's return, the return of spring and blossom, when most of us in the West have no clue about the dark?

In my months of tenting and no electric light, the sun set, and unless a campfire had been built, night fell with a thud. Birdsong meant dawn was near.

I live now in a small mountain community close to the land and to seasons, and light is a big deal. Families still remember lamp light here.

I met friends in the Old Town last night for wintry festivities, a rich-mix of silliness, firelight and camaraderie. 

We watched a hoot of a magical outdoor fashion show: vintage and theater sort of gowns and one stunning ballerina who soared onto the models' runway doing Sugar Plum Fairy! 

We sat on a bench covered with a long sheepskin, a bonfire close by. 

An old meandering lane of adobe art galleries is lit in celebration each year with luminarias* along the walkways, inner courtyard gardens and rooftops. (Boy Scouts do the lighting at dusk.) Many stone-circle fires, caroling, cider and hot chocolate. 

On Christmas Eve, huge iconic bonfires will be lit at the adobe Pueblo, a community in continuous habitation for a thousand years. Firewood is gathered in the spring, weak trees culled and cut on their sacred mountain.

They do see the stars wheel and the moon wax and wane. 

Light and dark and the elders teach the young, those willing to learn, about land, honorable harvest to preserve bounty and their kiva-deep ancestral memory of earth cycles.

image: Jane Grover

For winter's reading,
for timeless stories:

* Luminarias, the candles set in sand in paper sacks lining pathways, are called "farolitos" in northern New Mexico.