Raccoon ate my baby butternut but I had the last laugh today

Since you may know me as a photo junkie, you’ll be shocked to hear that I documented none of this story with photos! But it’s a good story, anyhow.

Last night, the sucky raccoon – I am pegging it on him even tho I never caught him in flagrante delicto, and you’ll soon see why — ate my biggest little butternut squash. It was particularly galling because I had been hoping the sticky squash vines would repel the nasty brute.

Once again, I set about rearranging the random blockades and nets. My goal this year is to use as much stuff as we have in the garage as possible and not invest more in the infrastructure until I’ve gone through a season and have a plan. So when I am out there, sometimes I am rearranging and sometimes I am staring and just thinking. And, sometimes, as you all know, I am taking photos and putting them on Facebook (and Instagram, lately).

I never used Instagram much until recently discovering that some of the younger members of our extended family post more photos there than they do on Facebook, but I digress….

I was just about done with the staring phase and doing one more light watering when I noticed, on the top edge of the composter (lower corner of the composter door), a glob almost the size of my fist that seemed to be oozing out of the composter. It seemed sort of hardened on the outside, and it was a bizarre orange-ish color. It had not been there the day before.

Wasp nest! was my first thought. But it seemed pretty quiet for a wasp nest. Some kind of oozing blob that would soon take over all of Bonnieland?

Whatever it was, I needed to zap it. I grabbed the hose, set the sprayer on full force and aimed.

Chunks of what looked like vomit broke up and fell to the ground.

Vomit full of… baby butternut squash!

The odd color? Undoubtedly, the turmeric I included in the homemade insecticide I’ve started spraying on the plants – directly onto the squash, as well. I guess it gave the raccoon a belly ache. It kind of gives me a belly ache when I think about consuming it, too:

Dr. Bronner’s unscented Baby Mild Dr. Bronner’s soap – 1 tbsp
Dashes of cayenne pepper, cinnamon, turmeric, garlic
Peppermint oil – 1/2 tsp
Olive oil – 1 tbsp

I clogged my first sprayer and had to strain it the second day. But it had sort of melded together by then.

Before spraying directly on the leaves and fruits, I tested it to make sure it would not burn the plants. (Here’s an instructional video that uses Peppermint Dr. Bronner’s.)

And why does this point the finger at the raccoon? Because no other mammal could have perched atop the free-standing composter, similar to this one. Maybe he was trying to pry it open when the nausea hit.

This episode, of course, gives me no confidence that the raccoon will not strike again. I started off as a dreamer with this garden, but I’m quickly getting real.

Next up: I’ve ordered a “scarecrow” thingy with a motion detector that squirts intruders with water. Why do I think I’m going to be forgetful and get hit with it a lot more than the raccoon?

Dropcam captued this raccoon passing by the vegetable garden in early May 2016.

Dropcam captued this raccoon passing by the vegetable garden in early May 2016.

Creamy corn chowder without the cream

This corn chowder is fast and easy to make but so filling and nutritious, the perfect combination.

It tastes sweet and suprisingly creamy without adding sugar or cream.

Ingredients
2 bags of frozen corn, preferably organic
2 yellow or orange or red bell peppers
1 medium onion
Vegetable broth, 1 32-ounce carton
Salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, dash of cumin

Directions
Chop the onion and peppers and sautee in olive oil. If you want a fat-free version,  soften the onion and peppers in vegetable broth instead. Add the corn and vegetable broth. Season and cook for 10 minutes. Let it cool off a little (or a lot, if you have more time).

In small batches, blend the mixture until it is has a smooth and creamy texture. Be careful because hot liquids can blow the top off a blender.

It’s done! You can serve it with a garnish of chopped greens — basil, cilantro, jalapeno, green onion. Squeeze lemon and lightly sprinkle salt into the chopped greens and drop a spoonful in the middle of the soup bowl. Mmmmm.

Swiss chard, inspired by Dr. Fuhrman’s GOMBS

My painter turned me on to Dr. Joel Fuhrman’s “Eat to Live” book about phytonutrients. Yes, my house painter. He works on our house now and then and in between those times, we stay in touch and usually talk about food because he’s also into juicing and veges and healthful eating.

Dr. Fuhrman suggests that you eat 2 lbs. of vegetables a day – 1 lb. raw (two giant salads) and 1 lb. cooked. He also says you should make a point of eating GOMBS – greens, onions, mushrooms, beans and berries, seeds & nuts — every day.

So that was the motivation for my fat-free lunch today.

Swiss Chard with Onions, Mushrooms, Peppers & Beans

Ingredients:

Swiss chard, leaves pulled from stems and roughly chopped
1/2 large onion, chopped
Red, yellow, orange peppers, diced
Mushrooms, sliced
Pickled garlic, 2 cloves sliced
Bragg’s All-Purpose Seasoning, sea salt
Cannellini beans, rinse & drain a can

Boil an inch of water in a paella pan or frying pan; add everything but the chard & beans. When onion has slightly softened, add the chard and stir into the hot mixture, reducing the leaves, for about 2 minutes. Drain the veges, fold in the beans.

Ta da. Fat free. I took half of the final product and stuffed it into a sprouted wheat tortilla. Then snacked on the rest of the bowl until it was gone!

Fuhrman also suggests that you eat 4 fresh fruits a day. And no added fat.

I am not disciplined enough to follow his program entirely, but the more veges I eat, the better! And since reading his book, I am consciously trying to use less oil in cooking, including olive oil (try using olive oil spray instead) and grapeseed oil (similar to olive oil but best for cooking at high temperature).

Juiced watermelon rind tastes kind of like coconut water

Alas, we were out of celery and cucumber this morning, but both Maximus and I wanted to get back to juicing after a few days’ absence.

We had run out of the basic juice veges, but we did have carrots and apples for one of the two juices we drank this morning (pictured, left). And the second juice (the muddy-looking one on the right) came from the watermelon rind I had saved from the other day.

Surprisingly, the juiced watermelon rind reminded me of coconut water. If you like coconut water, which is available at mainstream grocery stores under several brand names these days, then you probably would like watermelon rind juice.

Maybe coconut water and juiced watermelon rind seem similar because they both are alkali-producing. Which makes them both quite thirst-quenching.

P.S. While searching for information on alkaline foods, watermelon and coconut, I came upon this cool blog, which I am going to spend some time reading at leisure: alkalinesisters.com.

And P.P.S. I agree that it’s a little crazy to drink such nice alkaline juices and then turn around and drink the acidifying coffee that is also pictured in this blog post 🙂 I need to switch to Yerba Mate for my morning caffeine.

Celery juice (and p.s., I did NOT smell like a skunk last night)

I started juicing last fall, when I did Dr. Alejandro Junger’s 3-week “Clean” detoxifying diet, but the benefits of celery juice, in particular, never hit home until recently.

The basis of most of my juices are celery and cucumber; then add apple or Asian pear to sweeten; then add carrots or dark greens or whatever other dramatic vegetable, they are all good for you in one way or the other.

But it’s the celery that has amazing powers, and I just proved it to myself.

I had asked Dave, of Dave’s Gourmet Korean Food, which is only sold at Farmers Markets around Los Angeles, how to stop retaining fluids. He already had me eating lotus and daichon and burdock root and other vegetables in cider vinegar to detoxify my liver and kidneys. To flush the kidneys even more efficiently, he told me to start drinking celery juice 2x a day.

After 3-1/2 days of celery juicing, my resting blood pressure dropped from 120/70 to 114/65, pretty amazing if you ask me! Even regular exercise had not accomplished what the celery did in 3 days.

And now I even have Maximus drinking celery juice. He likes it because it keeps your kidneys from forming stones, and even though it’s been years since he had one, he doesn’t want another kidney stone, that is for sure.

Speaking of Maximus ….

Last night, I had fallen asleep downstairs but was awakened by the nasty smell of skunk creeping through our open windows and wafting through the house. I ran upstairs and got into bed with Maximus, warning him that a skunk smell might be following me upstairs. He reached over and took my arm — I thought he was going to wrap me around him but instead he smelled my arm like Gomez used to do with Morticia on The Adams Family.

“YOU smell like a skunk,” he said sleepily.

I took umbrage. I mean, I did not smell like a skunk, but there was definitely the smell of skunk in the air.

“No, that’s what they do, they get on you,” he said as he fell back asleep.

And even though I was SURE I did NOT smell like a skunk, I did get up and take a shower in the middle of the night because there was no way I was going to fall asleep wondering if there was any truth to it.

Green juice again …. oh, and now I know my secretor status

Whenever my fingernails start to break and weaken these days, I start green juicing.

I started the day with rice bread toast and almond butter with flax seed. After the morning run, which ended up being a walk instead this morning, I juiced this concoction of cucumber, celery and kale, with a squeeze of lime.

The juice really does fortify my nails; I’m already seeing the results after two green juices in the past week. But I still have a white spot on one of the nails of my right hand, which may indicate a need for calcium.

During my lunch hour, I’ll go to slow flow yoga — my third time at Yoga Shelter since last Thursday. I haven’t given up on my weekly pilates machine session with Viveca; this is in addition to working out with her and, besides, Viv is on her annual Sweden vacation for a couple weeks.

Meanwhile, get ready … because now that I’m armed with my “secretor” status, I’ve started re-obsessing about the Blood Type Diet. (P.S. I am a secretor, not a non-secretor.)

I’ve already fed my obsession a little this morning by downloading the Blood Type Diet app on Maximus’ iPad, which I have been using more than he has lately 🙂 It’s a very easy way to keep organized what foods are beneficial, what foods are neutral, and what foods are no-no’s. My You-Are-What-You-Eat doctor told me about the app.

I can already see that I’ve been eating something on the no-no list way too much — raw unsalted cashews. Goodbye, cashews. I can’t feel too badly about that; I should eat more walnuts anyhow.

Trout, Whipped Cauliflower, Raw Kale Salad

I am a good cook, fantastic sometimes, and tonight’s dinner was proof. Just ask Maximus and the dogs if you don’t believe me.

First, I was inspired by lunch with my friend Kristen at the Inn of the Seventh Ray. It was my first time there and her generous birthday gift to me.

We both had the raw soup — cucumber, avocado, cilantro, with slivers of green apple and greens on top. Kristen also had the California flatbread — 4 pieces of flatbread topped perfectly with goat cheese, thinly sliced tomato, olives, hmm, what else…. and I also had the warm rice with sea vegetables and Bragg’s amino acids. In a beautiful setting, alongside a quiet creek and a perfectly cascading fountain. Oh, and did I mention the glass of Sauvignon Blanc from a biodynamic winery….

But I digress. Dinner tonight was grilled trout, whipped cauliflower and raw kale salad. The raw kale salad was kale massaged with walnut oil, then added some diced crunchy vegetables, a handful of unsalted squash seeds, raisins and dried dark cherries soaked in orange champagne vinegar. Really, the kale salad is a meal in itself.

The whipped cauliflower was simpy cauliflower boiled to tenderness, then blended with the minimal amount of soy creamer. Add a little sea salt and it tastes remarkably like the best whipped potatoes you have ever had.

And the trout… seasoned with Bragg’s kelp seasoning and also some Mrs. Dash. Then I sprayed both sides — meat and skin — with olive oil spray. Grilled on both sides for a few minutes. Ate it with delicious Miso Red Pepper Mayo.

And the dogs were delighted when I served them the trout skins.