When I was growing up in the mountains, my father gave me two “winter tips” that were passed down to him from his parents and grandparents. First, keep a pot of water on the wood-stove as a sort of rustic humidifier to moisten the dry air that happens in homes shut up tight against the winter cold. This helped avoid the dry mucous membranes and scratchy throats that would otherwise plague us. And second, keep a jar of raw, local honey in the cupboard at all times, as this beautiful gift from the bees does wonders to soothe an irritated throat. With the cold weather now upon us here in western Oregon, I’m reminded of that steaming pot of water, stoking the fire against chilly nights, and Papa handing me a spoonful of honey before I brushed my teeth for bed.Read More
If you’ve ever dried herbs in your home, or arranged aromatic resins in an incense dish, or placed a jar of lavender stems on a shelf, you know that herbs and spices—as well as adding compelling flavors to food and providing healthful benefits to our bodies—bring a natural beauty and delicious fragrance to our homes. And when you put those natural ingredients into the hands of a master crafter, you can end up with unique herbal decorations that are simple to do even for those of us who aren’t so “crafty.”
Recently, my husband and I were taking a training class with our puppy, Gracie Cakes. The dog trainer suggested that we class attendees head to the grocery store and buy jars of baby food as training treats for the dogs — apparently, dogs love the common pureed ingredients used in commercial baby foods. I say this to explain how I found myself standing in a baby food aisle for the very first time in my life. I realized, as I stood there not knowing where to even begin, that I had raised three babies to healthy adulthood and, until Gracie Cakes the terrier, had done so without ever twisting the lid from a commercial baby food jar.
I love chocolate. I read that Trisha Yearwood once remarked, “I’m not saying I don’t enjoy the days that I’m not eating chocolate cake. But I do particularly like those days when I am eating chocolate cake.” This quote stuck in my mind, because that’s it exactly — that’s my relationship with all things chocolate!
This lifelong romance has followed an interesting trajectory. It began back in the '70s with the kinds of mainstream chocolate treats that you can buy at any market or gas station: candy bars, hot cocoa mix, chocolate syrup … I know, awful stuff, but I was a kid! As I grew up and learned about food science and health, I realized that the chocolate I was eating was so packed with added sugars, oils, and milk fats that you could hardly call it chocolate at all. This revelation inspired me to seek out the story behind my chocolate, to better understand how it is grown, sourced, and used, all of which eventually led me to the queen of beans: cacao.Read More
I developed my work ethic at the knee of my single father, who regularly worked 12-hour days and then, like every good single parent, came home and cooked dinner, went to teacher conferences, and helped me with homework. I learned to think of “self-care” as something one did as a reward, those minutes you might give yourself only after all the work is done.Read More
I went in for allergy testing because I’d been experiencing increasing amounts of sneezing and congestion. I live in Oregon’s Willamette Valley—the land of pollen—so I assumed I was developing the typical pollen-based misery that some of my friends suffer through every year. However, it turned out I wasn't allergic to anything natural, including pollens and my pets (good news!). I discovered, however, that my symptoms were being caused by a chemical sensitivity (bad news!), and the allergist immediately pointed to my skin care, hair care, and laundry detergent as likely culprits.