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September 2013

A Clean Cook, fifth in series

Clean cook

"Meat is not meant to be eaten several times a day, every day. It is meant to be a hard-won prize."

    Sorry to get so off track. Life has been super busy but I really wanted to keep writing this series A Clean Cook. As a reminder I have talked about what is a clean cook, about keeping one’s space clean, eating clean (healthy) food and having clean flavors. In this post I want to write about clean meat. This is subject I have thought about or should I say I thought I had thought about it, that is until a good friend turned me onto an interview of Berlin Reed who wrote The Ethical Butcher, how to eat meat in a responsible and sustainable way.  Mr. Reed stopped eating meat when he was 12, was a former militant vegan punk (his words) in his youth and eventually became a vegan butcher, who then learned to love meat. This interview totally fascinated me because Mr. Reed realized that by just bowing out of the system, so to speak, did not absolve him from what was happening to animals and the world. He decided he needed to be part of the system, so he could help fix it. He realized his problem was not with eating meat but the corporate meat industry. I should say he is not telling people how to eat or not to be vegan. He is telling people they need to look at the corporate food industry and look at how we can change it, because honestly we are the only ones who can change it.

    I have not read his book yet but plan to. I am sure I will not agree with everything he says but there is one thing that sticks out, one thing that has me changing what we eat and that is


  • What is the meat my family is eating?
  • Also, where does that meat come from?
  • How was this animal treated?
  • How healthy to my body is this animal I am consuming?
  • Am I respecting that this is a whole animal with fur, bones and offal’s?         

    I use to think of chickens as chicken breasts and cows as steaks BUT they are so much more. They are more than plastic wrapped piece from a store. It is like a loaf of bread. Most people think of it as a piece of buttered toast but when they make it from scratch, grind the wheat and even try growing wheat, they realize it is so much more the just a piece of bread. You respect that loaf of bread when you had to kneaded it, waited for it rise, looked for the best flour you can get and so forth. You sort of honor that loaf of bread. Plus you own it. Some big company did not make it, you did!

    The other thing Mr. Reed talks about is the idea of eating less but humanely raised meat. We eat too much meat. He thinks meat should not be cheap because it takes a lot of work to care for, raise and butcher. Again back to that just stuffing ourselves with meat without thought of how it came to us. Now I have a meat loving hubby but he is also a hunter, therefore a butcher, so he hears what I am saying. We are trying to cut back on our meat but eat better. It is slow because my family is pretty addict to the stuff. I am trying to get them to think of meat as treat, not daily staple. We buy a half a grass feed cow. I only buy wild caught fish. I am not at a point of affording pastured chickens. We should have our own meat chickens to butcher, some day!

   I should share that 3 years ago Chloe started to have ovary cysts, which would cause her so much pain we were taking her to the ER. The only thing the doctors offered was birth control. Well that was a last option for me, not a first. So we put her on an herb regiment, up her exercise (which is easy to do because now she teaches belly dancing) and cut out all foods that would have hormones in them. So raw milk, raw milk cheese, organic/wild/grass feed meats, no soy and so forth. I am happy to say Chloe has not had an incident for 1 ½ years. So we were already heading down this road but I am seeing more and more how I vote with my dollar. How what I buy and where I buy affects the system. Like Mr. Reed, I agree with his quote.

    “In my opinion, the single most critical element in the perpetuation of factory farming is corporate greed. We must focus on the whole picture: our entire food system. This includes the USDA, the FDA, and in this conversation, the entire agricultural system- livestock, corn, soy, wheat, monocrops, GMO’s, the whole nine. The outdated obsession with meat as the crux of the problem is unnecessarily narrow-minded and closes us off to the advantage of seeing the complex web we are struggling to free ourselves from.”

    So as A Clean Cook, I need to look at the meat my family eats and make some choices, as well as some scarifies. I need be open to cuts of meat I might not have been open to before, I need to be wise with where I spend my money and not support factory farming. I also need to be more mindful of this animal I am consuming. We are embracing less but better meat!


Please enjoy the rest of the series






Happy 1st of Autumn

  Happy autumn

     It is the beginning of fall (even though I have been in fall mode for a few weeks ;-) and this is my favorite time of year: cold mornings, wood stove, Apple Day, leaves turning, lots of baking, soft flannel sheets, hot tea, oil lamps, crisp air with a touch of smoke, golden light, Susan branch Autumn book, dipping bees wax candles. So what is your favorite thing about autumn?

Stocking Up For Autumn and Winter


    I know it is not quite fall yet but it is only 5 days way! At this time of year I have one thing on my mind, stocking up! I think it is because I am secretly hoping to be snowed in for week. Which sadly never happens here but it is my idea of heaven: home, baking away, nowhere to go, knitting by the wood stove. Anyways I am busy stocking up. Here is what is on my list so far.

Fall pears

Lots of wood to feed the wood stove.

A 50# bag of flour as I am baking bread almost every day. Baguettes are my new favorite thing to bake.

3-20# boxes of organic apples

1-20# box of pears to make Roasted Pear sauce, which I will freeze in glass canning jars.

Ingredients to make elderberry syrup in case we get sick.There is a recipe in Wren Bay.

At least 30# of dark chocolate. At Christmas time the stores have bigs sales on chocolate, so I stock up for the whole year.

Making sure all my spices are fresh for baking.

Checking my flannel sheets and ordering new ones if needed.

Same with my SmartWool socks.

Bone broth for the freezer.

I am hoping to make a wool petticoat out of a wool skirt. I will straighten the skirt and add a ruffle to lengthen it from another skirt. I have so many dresses and would like to wear them in the winter but with only hardwood floors, my legs get cold.

A new puzzle.

Collecting pine cones on my property for kindling starters.

6# of tea  ordered (we drink 12# a year!)

Oil for my oil lamps and a new box of matches.

And I am sure there will be more I will think of. I would love to hear what you are stocking up on?


GF Cider Cake From Wren Bay

Wren GF cider

    Wren Bay loves to cook, so she has lots of recipes. One of the recipes in the novel is a Cider Apple Cake, using a full cup of cider. It goes without saying the fresher and taster your cider, the better the cake is. I wanted to make this cake for our Sunday dinner but I wanted to make a gluten free version. I am not sure if they used sorghum or oat flour in 1918, (I know they did use almond flour) so I am do not think Wren would be making this. Having said that, if Wren was around today she would so be on the GF bandwagon, if only because it is healthy to no eat too much gluten!

By the way if you are on FB and love Wren, please stop by and check out her fan page.

Gf cider cake

Gluten Free Cider Cake

Makes one 8’”cake


½ cup of brown sugar or rapadura (I now use coconut sugar)

½ cup, 1 stick butter, softened

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 cup cider

1 cup of roughly chopped apples (you can leave the skins on)

Dry ingredients

1 tsp ground cinnamon

½ tsp ground ginger

½ tsp ground mace

½ tsp salt

1 tsp baking powder

½ cup almond flour

½ cup GF oat flour

½ sorghum flour


Preheat over 325°F

Grease an 8” cake pan.

Cream butter and sugar together in a mixer for a minute, till creamy. Add one egg at a time, then vanilla. In a bowl stir dry ingredients together. Mix in half the dry, add cider and mix in the rest of the dry. Stir in apples and pour batter in greased pan.

Bake 40-50, minutes, till a wooden skewer inserted into the center comes out clean. 



1. An all purpose GF baking mix can be used instead of the almond/oat/sorghum mix.

2. Replacing a 1/4 of cup cider with dark rum is yummy.

3. I like to serve my cake with caramel sauce!


Chalk Wall

Chalk wall 1

    I am slowly making progress with my kitchen makeover. The long black hardware is up, the grey mable back splash gleaming and now a chalk wall. I picture my kitchen looking like something out the Hugo movie; Victorian, French but a bit more girly. I really want a black and white kitchen but this is a dark, cold room. Plus add all the dark grey days we have in Washington and I felt I needed to go light handed with the black. So I am using touches of black here and there, that and the pale yellow walls I am hoping will add warmth to my kitchen.

Chalk wall 22

    I decided one chalk wall would give the feel of Patisserie that I wanted.The archway goes to my baking pantry (which is stuffed and disorganized, until we can move the refrigerator), so in a way I am a Patisserie. In the left corner it say Mrs. Storybook Woods in French. Am I thrilled with how my chalk writing turned out? No, but I have 10 foot ceilings and was terrified standing on that tall ladder trying to write something (my hands were shaking because I fall off everything). So I am embracing the best I can do. Sometimes you just have to do that!

Chalk wall 3

    I have to say painting a chalk wall is easy, so I encourage you to try it if you have been wanting one. I am loving the look of my kitchen and it inspires me to cook every day. Baguettes is my lastest favorite! Next thing on our to-do list is finishing the ceiling, put up old tin tiles and hang antique, cut glass pendants, which will hang over my French marble pastry table! More to come!

Earl Grey White Chocolate Mousse

  Earl grey fix labl

    Please check out my post at Gatherings, Earl Grey White Chocolate Mousse yummm! Also Gatherings is having a giveaway. The winner will be chosen September 10, good luck! Lastly Gandiflors Home and Garden in Lynden, WA will be carrying Gatherings in their shop soon.

    I have to say I am lucky to be working with an amazing group, Heather Spriggs Thompson Editor in ChiefTrisha Brink Market Editor, Elizabeth Hanley Vintage Editor,  Ingrid Henningsson Floral Editor,
Maaike van Koert Craft Editor, Tracy Castro Designer/ “Making Time” Columnist,  Annetta Bosakova Photographer / Stylist,Ginny Donovan Lifestyle Contributor, Lindsay George Writer/ Nashville Columnist.

Foraged Feast, Gatherings Fall issue


    I am pleased to announce the fall issue of Gatherings Magazine Rustic Romance is out!! Plus you can now purchase hard copies of the issue, both on-line and in stores. Here is a preview of the Gathering to give you a taste of what we have been up to. We are slowly getting Gatherings out there. I know both Bittersweet and the Little Soap Company Liberty, MO and Ole and Inga in Poulsbo, WA will be caring Gatherings in their shops. If you are interested in a copy, I would give them a call. I will be keeping you up to dated as more shops start carrying Gatherings. If your shop is interested in carrying it, contact Heather.

Fall me

    This issue is very special to me because it is the first time I got to work with a professional photographer. I have to say I loved it. Working with Annetta is fun, interesting and makes me up my game. ( by the way I am soooo excited about the winter shoot we will be doing at the end of the month). My contribution this issue is a Foraged Feast, a menu based on forged foods. You can find the recipes here!

 Carrot Soup Garnished with Hazelnuts

Pasta with Sherry Roasted Mushrooms and Cocoa Dusted Bacon

Chocolate Raspberry Cake with Rosehip Glaze


Just a reminder, you can preview the magazine here. Image by Annetta Bosakovafrom the 2013 fall issue of Gatherings Magazine, A Forgers Dinner written by me!!

Happy Autumn

  F decor Collage

    Happy beginning of Autumn. I know it is not officially fall but for me September 1 is the beginning of fall. Chloe and I have a tradition on the first of September we take down all decorations, put all summer stuff away and pull out our big orange box, full of autumn stuff. Chloe take her corners, I take mine and we decorate just the way we want. Each year has a bit of a color theme, some year red and gold, some years black and white. This year I am thinking purple, red and gray this year but we will see ;-)

Here is some autumn decorating ideas to inspire you.

1. Make Wood Pumpkins 2.Make Faux Candy Apples 3. Hydrangea Image 4. Twine Pumpkin 5. Beans and Rice Centerpiece 6.Plaster of Paris Covered Leaf