Author Archives for theRaggedys

It’s a Little Seedy

Are you thinking about your summer vegetable garden? I am. Gardening, according to Andy, would be a “serious leisure” pursuit for me. That’s a phrase I’d never heard until last week, when Andy casually mentioned he’d be writing about that in today’s Andy’s Corner.

Early Fortune Cucumber and Capitano Yellow Romano Bean seeds have just arrived from Territorial Seed Co and Seed Savers Exchange. But I don’t have room in our raised beds for pumpkins…though I do love pumpkin seeds!

Ferry’s Seeds are now incorporated into Ferry-Morse, but their vintage art lives on – at eBay, Etsy, etc.

I’m not going to revisit Old Mother Goose tales today; we’ve covered that before. But I would like to reiterate that Peter Peter Pumpkin Eater was NOT a nice guy. Why was his wife smiling on that Ferry’s Seeds package?

I may not like that Mother Goose rhyme, but I love pumpkin seeds in salads, in granola, with nuts, in dips, in tacos, or roasted and salted by the handful. The only kind of bread we routinely eat is Pumpkin Seed Bread from Della Fattoria in Petaluma, which is sold at our Sonoma Market. For cooking I’ve been buying packages of USDA organic unsalted, unroasted pumpkin seeds from Aurora Natural Products – based in Connecticut. It was many months after I first started buying them that I happened to read the small print on the package: “Product of China.”

China and India are the largest producers of pumpkin seeds. Find everything you want to know about pumpkin seeds at 88Acres.com

Since I use and enjoy sunflower seeds almost as much as pumpkin seeds, I did a little research into where they are commonly sourced. Voila. Ukraine. Not surprising, given that the sunflower is their widely-referenced symbol.

Ukraine and Russia are the largest producers of sunflower seeds. Find more information about sunflower seeds at 88Acres.com

To Aurora Natural Products’ credit, they labelled the country of origin for the seeds. Not every producer does that – because they don’t have to, apparently.

According to the U.S. Dept of Agriculture, Country of Origin Labeling (COOL) is a labeling law that requires retailers, such as full-line grocery stores, supermarkets and club warehouse stores, to notify their customers with information regarding the source of certain foods. Food products covered by the law include muscle cut and ground meats: lamb, goat, and chicken; wild and farm-raised fish and shellfish; fresh and frozen fruits and vegetables; peanuts, pecans, and macadamia nuts; and ginseng. 

Interesting, right? Peanuts, pecans and macadamia nuts must be labelled. But not seeds? And not almonds? What about pine nuts? And why ginseng?

Back in 2014 NPR’s All Things Considered did a segment on “Love Pine Nuts? Then Protect Pine Forests.” It’s a fascinating look at the forests that produce our pine nuts: “China has its own pine forests. And it is the world’s biggest exporter of pine nuts. Pine nuts also come from North Korea, Pakistan and Afghanistan. (Look at that list and you realize that good food can come from troubled places.)”

I love that last line – “…good food can come from troubled places.”

A quote from Ezra Klein’s recent piece in the NYTimes says it all: “The West is going to think harder about depending on autocracies for crucial goods and resources.”

My garden plans may be changing. It turns out that I don’t need or want ginormous Halloween-type pumpkins to produce my pumpkins seeds (more correctly known as pepitas). I need Styrian (SE Austria) pumpkins – which produce seeds that don’t need to be shelled. I wonder how many Styrian seeds I need to plant to get my yearly pumpkin seed quota?

A Styrian pumpkin – 6-10 pounds average

In case you’re wondering what to do with the seeds you may (or may not) have, consider the following:

Crunchy Pepitas, Sweet Potatoes and Black Bean Salad
Sunflower (or Pumpkin) Seed, Apple, and Kale Salad
Deb’s Granola
Spiced Pine Nuts, Pecans, and Pumpkin Seeds
Mayan Pumpkin Seed Dip (Sikil-P’ak)
(I haven’t mastered Pipian Verde (green pumpkin seed mole) yet but intend to try Rick Bayless’ version)

If you want to try your hand at a yeast bread, here’s a simple, seedy recipe.

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The Times They Are A-changin’

It’s a little hard, given what’s going on in the world, to write a light-hearted blog. At least without sounding tone-deaf. Suffice it to say, the news makes us disgruntled and dismayed. Maybe that’s what got Andy started on today’s Andy’s Corner. If we try to look on the positive side of things, are we “gruntled” and “mayed?”

The Times They Are A-changin’. Yes, everything – almost – makes me think of Bob Dylan and his lyrics. Which in turn reminds me of Heraclitus – who reportedly said “Nothing is constant but change” – or to put it another way, using the more apropos Greek: Panta Rhei (“life is flux”).

Andy and I got blindsided over Thanksgiving when L.A. friends were visiting. Vivi, our friends’ 11-year-old daughter, had joined us at the dinner table and was listening to our conversation when we casually mentioned “Raggedy Ann and Andy.” Vivi looked perplexed and innocently asked “Who are Raggedy Ann and Andy?”

Vivi didn’t know me?

We were devastated.

Can it possibly be that Generation Z-ers don’t know who Raggedy Ann and Andy are?

I had thought about entitling this blog “Forgotten But Not Gone.” But maybe we can’t even hope for that as times change and we move on. Here’s a site which is definitely worth checking out. It lists some of the favorite toys for each decade beginning with 1900. In 1900 my grandmother would have been about 11 years old. I was curious if I would recognize any toys she may have played with. Can you guess what the most popular toy was? Crayons. And Raggedy Ann and Andy top the 1920 list. I might mention that Mr Potato Head (1950s), Etch-a-Sketch (1960’s), and The Rubik’s Cube (1980’s) are also on the list. Is it possible that Vivi wouldn’t know about those either? Or are The Raggedys especially forgettable?

A favorite with my grandmother?

Coming right on top of the Raggedy incident was another one, further reminding me that all things change. Nothing is forever. Our son, Travis, who visited us for several weeks – made possible by our new work-at-home phenomenon – off-handedly mentioned that he just realized that we’re not supposed to be double-spacing at the end of sentences. WHAT? Since WHEN? Well, some quick research indicates that I’m not the only one out of sync. The Smithsonian Mag has a helpful review of the “two space” issue. And The Atlantic reported on a scientific study on this controversy.

Even more interesting about 2 spaces is the fact that WordPress, which is our host for this blog, has been automatically changing my 2 spaces to 1 space – and I hadn’t even realized it. Wow. This is huge.

And now on to recipes. Someone online posted a recipe from an old box of C&H cane sugar. It was for Raggedy Ann Cookies. Perfect. For remembrance.

Raggedy Ann Cookies – for remembrance. Note: I updated this a bit in the recipe below.

Then I thought about Space Cookies – to represent my new one-space awareness. When I looked up Space Cookies two things came up over and over. The most ho-hum is about the chocolate chip cookies baked in space by astronauts in the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft 2 years ago. But Space Cookies is also a “new, flavorful weed strain…”a hybrid that orbits on a cloud of sweetness with the booster power to blast you to the stars.” You may not all be interested in growing that – but we know some who may be. Wink, wink. And we probably know some who might be interested in baking some edibles by infusing chocolate chip cookies with weed, maybe even using the Space Cookies variety. Cookies in cookies. Oh my.

Space Cookies…”feminized.” Sounds interesting to me.

You can’t beat our recipe for Ultimate Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies, which we posted back in 2018. And here’s a link from Food52.com for how to infuse your butter with cannabis before making our yummy chocolate chip cookies. You might even go so far as use infused butter in the Raggedy Ann cookies. Good luck with that to all of you weed-lovers out there. LMK how they turn out. 🙂

But if you’re not interested in weed-infused cookies, rest assured that these are totally delicious as they are. They are only mildly sweet (if made with unsweetened coconut) – with a great crispiness. The Raggedy Ann Cookies will keep well for a number of days in an air-tight container and will freeze well too. We’ll definitely remember them the next time we need a cookie fix!

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Young, Stormy Lust

We feel like we’re an intimate part of the NYTimes and the WaPo news these days. Whether the news is about Grace Young, or Stormy Daniels, or Erika Lust, we’re – at the very most – one handshake or Facetime away from them – and fame!

If you’ve read our blog for long, you know that both Andy and I are intrigued by the “one handshake away” rule. We’re one handshake away from Jennifer Lopez, Bob Dylan and Winston Churchill. How utterly cool can we be? Andy, however, is not always cool. See today’s Andy’s Corner.

But this “one handshake” doesn’t take into account the new world of Facetime and Zoom. Can we count them? For example, if our daughter, Sara, is on a one-to-one Facetime with Erika Lust, are we the equivalent of one handshake away from Ms Lust? Did I hear you say you haven’t heard of her – and what’s the big deal? Well, as linked above, there’s this from the NYTimes, an article about Lust’s “Alternative Porn Vision.”

Before you go crazy wondering why Sara was Facetiming with Erika, rest assured there is a simple and nonsexual answer: Sara interviewed her for a new magazine, Mother Tongue, which Sara’s LA friends have launched. The article is about how to teach your children about porn – since they are bound to stumble upon it during their hours – and hours – of screen time. Ms Lust even has a website, The Porn Conversation, devoted to her approach to this disconcerting issue. I’m SO glad I raised my kids before the internet took hold!

Erika Lust

Now I probably never really shook hands with her, but surely I can count Stormy Daniels as even LESS than one handshake away. After all, she was a student (and known then as Stephanie Clifford) in my Scotlandville Magnet H.S Civics class in Baton Rouge – and I take credit for any kudos she got from the press on her ability to hold up to Michael Avenatti’s cross-examination. Avenatti, of course, then got convicted for swindling poor Stormy out of the proceeds from her book about her tryst (or possible tryst) with Donald Trump. 🙂

Stormy Daniels as photographed by Annie Leibovitz for Vogue, October 2018

After the “Stormy Lust” connections, Grace Young is a breath of fresh and wholesome air! Sara first met Grace years ago, not by Facetiming or Zooming – but the old-fashioned (dare I say “better”?) way – a one-on-one interview for a magazine article Sara was writing about Grace and her cookbooks. And then we were fortunate enough to get to have dinner with Grace and Sara in NYC.

If you ever need help with stir-frying or using a wok, Grace is your go-to. Grace’s first cookbook, The Wisdom of the Chinese Kitchen, was published in 1999, but her most acclaimed cookbooks are probably The Breath of a Wok, published in 2004, followed by 2010’s Stir-frying to the Sky’s Edge. I recommend you visit Grace’s website. I know you’ll be as impressed as I am with all she’s accomplished in the world of cooking.

But that’s the old (or young?) Grace Young. The Grace Young who is all over the news today is all about saving the Chinatowns – and Japantowns and Koreatowns and LittleSaigons. As the Coronavirus shut down restaurants all over the country, the restaurants of Manhattan’s Chinatown were possibly even harder hit. The anti-Asian sentiment – sadly – also impacted the situation. In an effort to boost public awareness of their dire straits, Grace recorded a series of interviews with NYC Chinatown’s restaurant folks, entitled Coronavirus: Chinatown Stories. The press coverage of this has been fabulous, including this article in the Smithsonian Mag. And Grace is fabulous. I’m in “Young Love!” (If you don’t get our “friends and family” email that precedes our blog, you won’t appreciate this :). If you’d like to be put on that email list, let us know, by clicking Contact in the upper right and filling it out. We promise not to share your email with anyone because we don’t know how to!)

Grace Young

We’re sharing two of Grace’s stir-fry recipes, one easily-made vegetarian and one with beef. They’re both to “lust” after!

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Oh Wynn!

Only What You Need

Clearly it was the name that first caught my attention. The name? “OWYN.” Remember our new little Cardigan Welsh Corgi is named Wynn. And we say, “Oh, Wynn!” a lot around here. Now maybe we’ll shorten it to OWyn. But is she – or this drink – “Only What You Need?” I doubt it.

Whether we need a Welsh Corgi is beside the point. We have her and we adore her.

Wynn – at 7 months – and Oakley – at 11 years

Whether we need to be drinking OWYN is another question.

I was curious what this OWYN drink was and why 5,827 Amazon members had given it an almost perfect 5 star rating. Here’s the company’s ad:

I won’t argue that this list of benefits and nutrition makes OWYN sound great; but I would argue that a fortified drink isn’t “Only What You Need.” I like to think we get our nutrition – our EAAs (essential amino acids) and protein and superfoods and Omega 3’s – from food that does more than just help us survive another day. I’d like to think that both preparing and consuming food can and should be a pleasurable experience.

Instead of mindlessly inhaling that supermarket/Amazon drink, how about making a quick and easy pasta dish – with sustainable tuna, organic spinach, and walnuts – and even anchovies, if you’d like. A few of you may say “YUCK” to the anchovies. You’ll want to check out more about “YUCK” in today’s Andy’s Corner.

As shown in the chart below, tuna, anchovies, spinach, and walnuts are great sources for Omega-3 Fatty Acids. And note: Omega-3’s have been shown to fight anxiety and depression. Sounds perfect for this Covid era!

If we weren’t such fans of cooking, we’d probably just squirt some of Wynn & Oakley’s fish oil supplement onto a store-bought salad to quickly and easily get our Omega-3’s (just kiddin’!).

As for picking a good sustainable tuna brand, here are two that are recommended by Greenpeace and the Sierra Club.

For today’s healthy, yummy WYNN-R (What You Need Now – Really) winner recipe, we’re pleased that its source is San Francisco’s legendary Judy Rodgers and her The Zuni Cafe Cookbook.

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Keep Moving

A Christmas gift from our grandson at Cal

Let’s begin today’s BigLittleMeals with a quiz:

Give me the name of the author who…

  1. Was born in Sacramento, California
  2. Descended from members of the original Donner Party
  3. Used a line from a Yeats’ poem as the title for one of her books
  4. Received her degree in English from Cal (otherwise known as Berkeley for those of us who didn’t grow up in Northern California)
  5. Was a Barry Goldwater supporter
  6. With her husband, wrote the screenplay for 1976’s A Star is Born, starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson (I LOVE Kris Kristofferson!)
  7. Wrote “You were meant, if you were a Californian, to know how to lash together a corral with bark, you were meant to show spirit, kill the rattlesnake, keep moving.”
  8. Confessed to having a coke every morning before she started writing

Did you get it? If not, keep reading and I’ll divulge the name at the end of this blog :). If you didn’t get it, you’ve missed out on knowing about and enjoying the works of a really fascinating and complex writer.

Yeats’ poem is also worth highlighting, especially given the fact that he wrote it in 1919 – in the midst of the Spanish flu pandemic. Probably the most disturbing lines for us living through the last few years are these:

Yeats and Falcon

Turning and turning in the widening gyre   
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold

My mystery author refers to this Yeats poem as she begins her famous essay:

The center was not holding. It was a country of bankruptcy notices and public-auction announcements and commonplace reports of casual killings and misplaced children and abandoned homes and vandals who misspelled even the four-letter words they scrawled.

It was not a country in open revolution. It was not a country under enemy siege. It was the United States of America in the year 1967, and the market was steady and the GNP high, and a great many articulate people seemed to have a sense of high social purpose, and it might have been a year of brave hopes and national promise, but it was not, and more and more people had the uneasy apprehension that it was not. All that seemed clear was that at some point we had aborted ourselves and butchered the job, and because nothing else seemed so relevant I decided to go to San Francisco. 

Upon re-reading those lines, I actually found them to be comforting. It’s easy to forget that we’ve had really hard times in the world before this Covid pandemic laid siege. And it’s an eye-opener that the author is describing the year Andy and I married – 1967 (not incidentally, that’s also the year Andy got drafted, as the Vietnam War got going). And just so you know – in today’s Andy’s Corner, we learn of Andy’s “connections” to the two main characters in one of this author’s most famous essays.

San Francisco – 1967

But on to less disturbing thoughts and more about California and rattlesnakes. We hadn’t lived in Glen Ellen, California very long before one of my new clients from my days as a gardener (remember MiniBlooms?) told me how years ago she had shot and killed a rattlesnake that had bitten her young son. I guess we native-born Coloradans aren’t nearly as tough as the best of these Californianos. The first and only time I confronted a rattlesnake, I screamed for Andy to come do something (Andy, of course, is a native-born Californian, so that explains his killer instincts when confronted with a snake).

And leaving rattlesnakes behind (thankfully), we can next consider the author’s suggestion that real Californians know they must keep moving. Hopefully, that won’t entail moving out of California (which is a headline practically every other day), but will entail moving forward, not stagnating, not letting pandemic morose overwhelm us.

My soon-to-be-named author used Coca Cola to get moving in the morning, so we’ve got a Coke recipe for you to try. Andy and I gave up drinking Coke years ago – and only buy it now when a certain family member arrives for a visit and requests it – though we adamantly and self-righteously refuse to buy Diet Coke or cans of Coke – and will only consider a bottle of Mexican Coke. But that doesn’t keep us from LOVING this cake. Crazy what a little Coke can do! (note: I said A LITTLE. I just read that Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) routinely drinks 10-12 bottles of Diet Coke…a day – and she’s in the news not only for her junk food addiction and her overuse of Ibuprofen but because she just had emergency surgery for ulcers).

So here’s a final hint for my mystery author quiz: she made a big deal about NOT drinking Diet Coke – yet she was incredibly – almost abnormally – thin.

And (I’m sure y’all already know) – The quote is from the essay “Slouching Towards Bethlehem,” and my mystery author is Joan Didion. RIP

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