The Hardest Post… As goes the publishing world, so goes the blog.

After six years, I’m done. The publishing world has changed, we all know it. So has the world of blogging.

Once upon a time, as recently as 2-3 years ago, a blog was crucial for outreach, for getting to know readers and other authors. Blogging meant putting oneself out there. No more.

Readers find books and authors via other algorithms. Via Amazon and Goodreads and who knows where. There is far less interest in the individual thoughts of individual authors like me.

I’ve loved this blog. It is precious to me. I’ve loved interacting with my readers and my friends. I will miss writing posts and reading your comments. But it’s time to make a change. And change is good. I’ll have more time to write regular old books.

Regular old books… Therein lies the reason I began this blog– to get my books read. Well, you’re reading them. And I thank you.

This blog will become a website. I’ll keep my blog posts archived. You can read them anytime! I plan to include a number of features and I’ll post updates whenever I release a new book.

So ends an era. It’s been fun. You all keep in touch because I would be lost without you. Love, Julia

Baba Ganoush (Translation: Yummy Eggplant Dip)

Fun factoid #1: literal translation from Arabic– Pampered Papa or Coy Daddy

Fun factoid #2: Eggplants contain nicotine. Why is this? Good question! Because the tobacco plant is a member of the nightshade family, along with eggplant, tomato, tomatillo, chilie, peppers, potatoes! Eggplant contains more nicotine than the other nightshades, aside from tobacco, at 100mg/gm. Twenty eggplants equal one cigarette. Better get to eating if you’re trying to quit!

Fun factoid #3: As usual we have an excess of eggplants, which is fine because my Montana daughter insists I overnight the excess to her. Short growing season and this past week they’ve had several feet of snow. (Hello ice age!)

So I’m making Baba Ganoush. Love. It.

It’s super easy. First I grill the eggplants (2 large or 4-5 small-medium) until they are soft and the skins are charred. Then I stick them in a plastic bag to steam. I let them cool to make peeling easier.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Grilled Eggplant. Ready to Peel.

Toss the charred skins. Throw the meat of the eggplant into a food processor or blender. Add salt, 2 cloves of garlic, the juice of 3 lemons and 1/2-1 cup of tahini. Start with 1/2 cup. Blend. Add water, slowly, as needed to make the Baba Ganoush creamy. Taste. You may need to add a little more salt, lemon juice or tahini.

Scoop into a wide bowl. Sprinkle with sweet paprika or zaatar and drizzle with olive oil. And voila! Serve with pita bread and crudites.

Baba Ganoush.

Baba Ganoush.

And done!

 

Busting Nutrition Misinformation – Yes, you may have s’more!

A beloved s'more.

A delicious s’more.

The s’more has a long and glorious history.

It was first mentioned in Girl Scout literature back in 1925. That’s almost 100 years ago, folks!

A s’more, the simplest of confections, is made of a fire-roasted marshmallow and a layer of chocolate sandwiched between two graham crackers. There you have it. Our family has been making and eating s’mores for as long as I’ve been alive.

Remember when you were a kid? There is nothing quite as exciting as searching a campsite for the perfect stick, cleaning said stick, sticking a marshmallow on the end of said stick, sticking the stick holding the marshmallow into a campfire, roasting the marshmallow until it is nice and toasty and then smooshing the hot marshmallow between two graham crackers upon which awaits a thin section of milk chocolate.

If you did it just right the chocolate melted and wow, you had the perfect gooey dessert. I want s’more, please! (The truth is, s’mores are so sweet I’ve never actually met anyone who could eat more than two.)

It’s a multi-generational thing. After a summer barbecue, my parents love to make s’mores as the grand finale. My kids love s’mores, but only on camping trips.

Outside of the right setting, s’mores hold less appeal.

You see, that’s the thing. It’s not as if we’re all eating s’mores every single day or for every single meal. S’mores are usually reserved for camping trips, campfires, summer camp and cookouts/barbecues.

I spent two summers as a counselor at a summer camp for diabetic kids and even those kids got to eat s’mores. We just made sure we had the insulin to cover the sugar rush. Nobody ever passed out. Nobody complained. On the contrary, the kids were in s’more heaven.

I’m asking a serious question here. Why mess with a good thing?

To honor National Roasted Marshmallow Day, the Forest Service suggested we replace the chocolate with fruit or peanut butter. See here:

The USDA Blog.

Huh?

(Look, if it’s the sugar they’re worried about, get rid of the marshmallows, which are made pretty much entirely of sugar.)

Uh… no. To eliminate the chocolate from a s’more makes the confection not a s’more. And besides… ewwwwww. (Generally speaking I hate marshmallows. A s’more is the only time I’ll eat one.)

There is a prevailing myth about sugar. Any Amount of Sugar = Bad Things.

And yes, indeed, too much sweet stuff does equal bad things. But I’m not advocating too much sweet stuff.

Table sugar contains linked fructose and glucose. Honey contains un-linked fructose and glucose. Corn syrup contains maltose, but high fructose corn syrup is high in, surprise, fructose. Fruit is a bag of watery fructose with fiber and micro nutrients.

Look, I’m not a huge fan of sweets, aside from chocolate. I don’t think loads of sugar and processed carbs are good for us. Period. However, although I know many many many people will disagree, I don’t see all that much difference in the way our bodies metabolize all of the sugars mentioned above. I, personally, avoid products containing high fructose corn syrup because I believe concentrated fructose can be problematic. I don’t think sugar (including fruit) is dangerous, provided you are not diabetic, and it is eaten in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

I definitely don’t see a need to change s’mores. A s’more is perfect as is. (And this is coming from a woman who detests marshmallows under all other circumstances.)

My new favorite ‘found’ item!

I found this in a throw-away bin– one of the bins where we could toss our earthquake trash.

Look!

My two favorite cooks!

My two favorite cooks!

Look closer!

Can you believe it???

Can you believe it???

That’s what I saw when I opened the book the next day. I was so excited. I loved Julia Child. I always wanted her autograph but I never had the opportunity. Wow. Just… just wow!

Will I ever make one of the recipes? Who knows? Who cares? It’s enough to merely hold the book in my hot little hands. :)

Herbal Remedies in Your Kitchen and Backyard.

I’ve been watching Outlander religiously and so I have herbal remedies on my brain. I keep wondering– If I were sent back in time, and I had to practice primitive medicine as a healer (I am a registered nurse) — Would I succeed?

Claire in the herb garden at Leoch.

Claire in the herb garden at Leoch.

I’m not a physician, but with my experience I can stitch up cuts, clean and bandage wounds, even set fractures. I can probably diagnose the usual things like asthma, pneumonia, hepatitis, an enlarged prostate, a bladder infection, an ear infection, strep throat, tonsilitis, influenza, even appendicitis. But would I dare remove an inflamed appendix  in an attempt to save a life only to lose said life to the resulting peritonitis?

I can help to deliver a baby. I know a little about a breach delivery as well, and I could probably do a C-Section in an emergency, but keeping the mother alive would be next to impossible.

What do I bring to the table? The knowledge of germs, isolation, disinfection, and sterilization. I’d be busy boiling water.

Most important of all? The washing of hands.

I have some limited knowledge of herbs and tonics and their uses. Of course herbs are not like antibiotics. The dosage is not standardized. Many are also toxins – nightshade and foxglove. Did you know foxglove is digitalis, used to treat heart failure? Deadly nightshade is atropine, which can increase a slow heart rate. But the dosages would elude me. I could just as easily kill a man as cure him.

But I would take the following (limited) knowledge with me into the past:

Honey and garlic are germicidal. Both can be used to treat an infected wound and both are helpful for a cough and congestion. Honey can help sooth a sore throat in addition to its germ-killing properties.

Garlic can also be used as a de-worming agent. (Good to know, right?)

Leeks and onions are decongestants.

Raw vinegar is an excellent disinfectant. It can also help with digestive issues, yeast infections, various skin conditions.

Beer increases lactation. Seriously.

Alcohol, is, well, alcohol – I guess I’d use alcohol as an anticoagulant (blood-thinner), an anesthetic, to distill herbs and plants, and to sterilize equipment and wounds.

Yarrow can help stop bleeding and it can reduce a fever.

Yarrow.

Yarrow.

Willow bark can reduce a fever and help with joint inflammation.

The bark of an oak tree makes a good astringent and can help relieve kidney stones if taken as a tonic.

Witch hazel is an astringent – can help heal abrasions and mouth ulcers.

Witch Hazel.

Witch Hazel.

Lavender helps to heal burns and abrasions and soothes insect bites and stings.

Lavender.

Lavender.

Mint and bee balm help with digestive disorders, as does wild ginger.

Bee Balm.

Bee Balm.

Bilberry is good for the eyes.

Billberry.

Billberry.

Salt water makes a good rinse for wounds and mouth sores.

Sugar can be packed into a would to accelerate healing – sugar is germicidal. (I have personally packed decubitus ulcers with sugar with excellent results.)

Elderberry and cherry help with cough and congestion.

Elderberry.

Elderberry.

Black pepper is terrific for chest congestion. (But I’d have to remember it’s also a deadly poison.)

Black peppercorns.

Black peppercorns.

Tea is an astringent. It’s very helpful for minor burns.

Mustard can definitely help a cough but it can also cause a chemical burn if left too long on the skin.

Mustard flower.

Mustard flower.

Echinacea, or cone flower, helps to improve the immune system.

Echinacea.

Echinacea.

Valerian root acts as a sedative. Not strong enough to remove a bullet from a man’s chest, but…

Valerian.

Valerian.

I know about more herbs, but probably not many of them would be found in Scotland.

So tell me, what herbs are you familiar with?