You know how ‘the news’ isn’t ‘the news’ but ‘the BAD news’?
Every now and then something slips by the radar—it’s newsworthy and it’s not bad. It may even be good.
I love this. Virginia tobacco farmers, floundering in the dropping demand for tobacco, are planting chickpeas instead. Because hummus is booming.
YAAAAAAAAAY. GO HEALTHY EATING THAT IS HEALTHY WITHOUT MAKING A BIG SCOWLY FACE DEAL OUT OF IT.*
I of course have been eating hummus for decades. I’d’ve said all us old original-Moosewood-Cookbook** hippies and freaks and navy-blue-suit wearing secret counterculturists ate hummus.***
But I do want to draw your attention to hummus chocolate cake. I’ve got a recipe for it myself somewhere but I couldn’t find it and I had to go bell ringing†. There are several of them out there in internetland†† but they seem nearly identical and epicurious is usually pretty reliable:
This looks like mine—the four eggs and two teaspoons of vanilla are right. I may use more cocoa. It’s a safe bet that I usually use more cocoa. But the cake is lovely. Really. It’s chiefly the tahini that gives what you think of as the hummus flavour to, um, hummus. Hummus chocolate cake is just very, very dense and moist and filling and scrummy and excellent. It’s also dairy and gluten free and doesn’t taste like a lot of the contents of those grim ‘without’ shelves at the supermarket.††† You can even fool yourself that it’s good for you.
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* I am also going to risk being heinously politically incorrect and say that given America’s^ relations with the Middle East I can’t help but feel that enthusiastically adopting even a mere humble foodstuff can’t hurt. They’re people like us, you know? They eat. And eating together is usually bonding too.
^ And most of the western first world’s
** Which is out of print. The new one is all low fat. Feh. http://www.amazon.com/Moosewood-Cookbook-Katzens-Classic-Cooking/dp/1580081304/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368656400&sr=8-1&keywords=moosewood+cookbook
I’ve got so many physical issues it’s not frelling funny. My intolerances are intolerant of my other intolerances. But one thing this body has always got right is its cholesterol levels—even back in my heavy dairy, if-it-stands-still-long-enough-put-butter-on-it days, I had low Bad Cholesterol and high Good Cholesterol.^ So everyone moaning about Katzen’s high-fat recipes I was like, What?^^ I remember reading an interview with Katzen I think around the time that the new revised not-so-much-fat edition came out, saying (as my flaky memory recalls it) that she was a little embarrassed at the way she’d trowelled on the dairy and the oil and so on but that she’d been publishing a vegetarian cookbook at a time when vegetarian food was perceived as feeble and weedy and listless and she wanted to present it as able to duke it out with steak and chops. And it does, unless you have the kind of politically incorrect metabolism that DEMANDS MEAT, which mine does. Oops. But I don’t have to have it every day. And my original MOOSEWOOD and ENCHANTED BROCCOLI FOREST cookbooks have a lot of pages stuck together and a lot of notes in the margins.
^ I must have told you this story: when I first had ME, and my NHS doctor had grandly declared that she didn’t believe in ME—thanks ever so, lady—I went briefly to a private doc recommended by another ME sufferer. He had, he said, found himself making a speciality of it simply because he saw so much of it. I couldn’t afford him for long but he got me started taking care of myself and was very encouraging even when I told him I had to pack as much in as possible in as few appointments as possible. One of the things he did was have my blood tested for seven single-spaced pages of stuff. The ‘normal’ ranges for most things are wide enough you have to be a doctor to find any of the readings suggestive, but anything that counted officially as abnormal was marked by a big band of colour, like a giant highlighter. My cholesterol levels were highlighted. NOOOOOOOO. CHOLESTEROL IS THE THING I DO RIGHT. No, no, said the doctor. The lab doesn’t differentiate between good abnormal and bad abnormal. Your bad cholesterol is abnormally low, and your good cholesterol is abnormally high.
Oh. ::Beams:: Pity about the ME though . . .
^^ I also have another of my crunchy-granola, geeky health-nutter fringe rants about the fact that fat is good for you. The super-low-fat thing is BAD. And margarine is not fat, okay? Margarine is evil. Greasy evil. What they do to it to make it solid is far worse than butter ever was or could be unless you injected it with curare or something first.+
+ I think one of the fashions for eggs as good for you is current too. Yawn. Yes. They’re good for you even when they’re out of fashion, unless you’re allergic to them. I eat a lot of eggs.
*** My hummus is actually not Katzen’s. I was indeed faintly superior and ho-hum^ when Moosewood came out. It wasn’t going to have anything to teach me and what’s with the twee hand lettering? I think one of my long-ironed-hair, tie-dyed-skirt-wearing friends gave me a copy^^ and when I still had more than twelve calories a day available I was a sucker for a good cookbook.
^ I have never claimed to be a nice person, and I was worse when I was younger
^^ Tie-dye took a long time to go away. AND IT CAME BACK. AAAAAAAAUGH. Barring a pink tie-dye t shirt that a friend and her kids made me a few years ago+ that I am very fond of, I have the same feeling about tie-dye that I do about bell bottoms. AAAAAAAAAAAUGH. AAAAAAAAAAAAUGH. And don’t come near me with shag carpeting or Austin Powers either.
+ It’s colour proof and everything. You can put it through the washing machine. They make home-hand-dyeing colour a lot better than they used to.
† I RANG THREE TIMES TONIGHT. YAAAAAAAY. It was almost like being a real person.
†† Along with a lot of suggestions for straight hummus-chocolate mousse-like-substance or frosting or cookies which I will leave you to discover for yourselves although if you’re asking me all those involving things like Nutella are impure.
††† Personally I think chocolate-covered rice cakes are a sin against nature.
Wall wall WALL WAAAAAAAAAAALL!!!!!! WAAAAAAAAAAAAAALLLL!! WALLWALLWALLWALLWALLWALLWALL!
WALLITTY WALL WALL WALL WALL WALL.
::happy dance:: Happy happy happy happy, happy happy DANCE!
. . . Er. Well. In its small but in-my-face way, the wall story has been rather TRAUMATIC. Now . . . I’ve already had the other piece of that wall rebuilt by Atlas, I think the first year I was here; opposite that now entirely replaced wall is Phineas’ house, the third wall of my garden is my house and the fourth wall . . . I hope that wall stays up because I’m pretty sure those neighbours and I would have difficulty seeing eye to eye about things. Ahem. Life in a small town. It’s wonderful. Here’s to walls. YAAAAAAAAY. WAAAAAAAAAAALL.
Hellcritters and I took a fast sprint to a local(ish) garden centre this afternoon. The point about taking critters along, aside from giving them a change of scenery, is that they FILL UP THE BACK SEAT so there’s a limit to the damage I can do.** Also we went late, so I didn’t have a lot of time to look around before the shop closed. I needed compost: my little all-the-plumbing-in-Hampshire garden is putting Westland’s frelling shareholders’ children through university, I buy so much frelling compost for all my pots. And while I was there I was going to look for snapdragons.*** Which means going into the plant area. Noooooooo . . .
I did very well. I bought three trays of snapdragons . . . rather too many little diascias† because they come in such good colours, a few pulsatillas†† which is another of those can’t-kill plants that keep dying on me, a pansy or two, a couple of hanging-basket liners and . . . a King Edward flowering currant.††† Which will grow seven or eight foot before it’s done. Arrrgh. It’s just . . . well, I have no self-control.‡ And we had a flowering currant at the old house which I loved, and it’s been on my list of Things to Replace for . . . eight years. And it called my name, okay? How are you supposed to walk away from something that knows your name?‡‡
And I got home and realised I should have bought more compost.
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*Which is to say before Souvenir de la Malmaison went in. Generally speaking you worry about your plants when someone is stomping over their beds and digging ditches through their roots and filling those ditches up with cement and so on.^ In Souvenir’s case you worry about anyone loose in her vicinity, however well defended with spades and scaffolding.
^ I would be very sorry to lose Golden Spires+ and Brother Cadfael++ but at least I could replace them. I’m holding my breath about my apple tree. Not only is it some kind of old—I’ve been here eight years and it was already stooped and wrinkly when I arrived—but I have no idea what sort it is, so I couldn’t replace it, and it produces fantastic apples. It’s leafing out now. So far so good.
** Actually there isn’t. This wretched garden centre delivers locally.
*** Individual colour snapdragons. Major pet peeve: mixed trays of bedding plants so you have no idea what you’re getting till they flower. So you plant a mixed tray of snapdragons/busy lizzies/begonias/bedding dahlias/whatever under your old-fashioned lavender-pink roses and they come out scarlet and orange. THANKS EVER SO.
‡ However I flatter myself I’m not a complete fool. http://www.manufactum.co.uk/terracotta-tile-clematis-root-protector-p1443402/
What. The. Frell. I’m supposed to spend twenty-three quid on a broken pot? I have DOZENS of broken pots sitting around waiting to be recreated as further-broken-up bits in the bottoms of other pots.^ If I wanted to do it that way I could erect an Eiffel Tower of terra cotta pieces. Furthermore, what a waste of opportunity: most of my clematis have clusters of littler pots of things like geraniums and pinks protecting their roots from sunlight. When there is sunlight, of course. Feh. Oh, and burying terra cotta in the ground? That is so doomed. ‘Frost resistant’. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
^ I know, they’ve proved it at least annually for the last several decades that shards in the bottoms of pots do not improve drainage. Well, yes and no. They do prevent the drainage holes from getting blocked. They also weigh the pot down: most pots flare from the base. Tall thin pots do well to have a nice stabilising layer of stones or pottery pieces in the bottom. And when you’re potting on I’d much rather untangle overexuberant roots from loose shards than from impacted soil—plus you have a smaller rootball to transfer. I still put something in the bottoms of pots before I put the soil in.
‡‡ And there’s always Third House. Third House’s garden has several Largest _____ You’ve Ever Seen which began life with me at the cottage.
I’m frelling ILL. I’ve got some kind of head-cold-flu thing. It’s all that hanging out in freezing-cold chapels with monks.*
A while ago on the forum Mrs Redboots asked for the ‘go-to’ homeopathic remedy for a head cold. There isn’t one. But I’ve been meaning** to use the question as an excuse to give you a(nother) little disquisition, not to say harangue, about first-aid homeopathy.
One of the great strengths of homeopathy, as well as its chief central frustration, is that it’s so INDIVIDUALISED. Barring Arnica, which works, often amazingly, for almost all blood-and-bruising injuries, there isn’t much else that is one size fits all. The two remedies I carry teeny-tiny bottles of in my pocket are Arnica and Aconite. Aconite is the go-to remedy for shock and fear, and one of the guidelines about using it is that if you’re in a situation where someone is freaked out enough for you to be giving it to them, you should probably take it too because fear is contagious. You’re first on the scene at a traffic accident? While you’re waiting for the ambulance, give anyone who’s injured Arnica***—but give everyone present Aconite.
But most things you have to choose a remedy that suits the individual. I’m pretty sure I’ve done my little tap-dance about this before: if, say, you are treating five people (or you have five friends who ring you up because they know you’re a homeopathy wonk) for flu, chances are very good you’ll be recommending three or four—or five—different remedies.† All five of your friends are achy and feverish and fluey, but if you ask them what’s bothering them the worst, one of them will say the headache and sore throat, one of them will say the sneezing and streaming nose, and one of them will say the nausea and photophobia. That’s three different remedies.
And even for ‘acute’ prescribing like this you have a better chance of hitting on the right remedy if you know something more about them than the symptoms of flu. Do they tend to be fussy and particular or are they easy going slobs? Are they usually hot people or cold people (when they’re not ill)? Do they like warm rooms or fresh air? Do they prefer company or solitude? Arsenicum album, for example, is chilly, persnickety, cranky, fearful, restless even when they’re ill and prone to burning pains (if their noses run, it’ll burn their upper lips). You’re going to nail an Ars alb more on the ‘mentals’ than on the fact that they’re wobbly and sneezy. Allium cepa has a runny nose that burns the upper lip, Gelsemium is wobbly and Rhus tox is restless and fearful. They’re all flu remedies.
The best thing to do is buy a homeopathic first-aid book and a first-aid kit to go with it, and start experimenting. And I recommend you begin this exercise while you’re feeling well. The last thing you want to be doing is trying to prescribe when you feel like something a bull terrier puppy has spent the last several hours chewing on. Unfortunately homeopathy books go in and out of print really fast and the ones I learnt on and can recommend aren’t necessarily available any more. Don’t even bother with amazon. There are homeopathic on line bookshops however and the two that I use,
are both run by friendly helpful people—and they ship overseas. I’m sure there are good homeopathic bookshops in whatever country you live in as you read this, it’s just these are the ones I know, and they are, not surprisingly, in the UK. Looking at Minerva’s ‘introductory’ category I can recommend any of these:
Miranda Castro, Complete Homeopathy Handbook
Colin Griffiths, The Practical Handbook of Homeopathy
Henrietta Wells, Homeopathy the Modern Prescriber
David Gemmell, Everyday Homeopathy
The latter two are possibly a little shorter and less intimidating than the first two, although it’s the Castro that first made me a homeopathic obsessive.
Helios Pharmacy does kits:
Ainsworth’s is the other well known homeopathic specialist pharmacy, but their kits are all stamped NOT AVAILABLE IN THE UK which is pretty unhelpful. This is another fact about homeopathy: it’s permanently under fire by ConMed and its allies, chiefly Big Pharma, although frequently disguised as Wanting What’s Best for Humanity. Apparently at the moment this is preventing Ainsworth’s from selling its kits at home. I’m not going to go there, the Bash Homeopathy movement makes me furious. Homeopathy is not bunk and it’s not placebo, okay? And there is evidence that it works, it’s just it’s not very good at publicising itself, and the entrenched party line is very good at burying it. I’ve been using homeopathy for about a dozen years and I’m afraid I pay as little attention to the political rows as I can, which is in fact irresponsible of me, but life is short at best and my fuse is too short and ranting is tiring and doesn’t do any good. Homeopathy isn’t for everyone and I’m not saying it is, but anyone who wants to tell me that it’s all water and snake oil and I’m a poor sad deluded fool will be shot at dawn, okay?
PS: I was going to start tonight’s entry by saying that there is a go-to remedy for that first all-is-not-well icky sensation of an oncoming cold or flu virus, but I’m not sure it’s obtainable in the UK: Oscillococcinum. It’s not listed as a remedy from either Helios or Ainsworth’s ††. I have a remedy machine†††, I make it. If you google it it seems to be available here and there, but the problem with here and there is knowing whether it’s the real thing . . . or water and snake oil. Homeopathic remedies can be fake just like almost anything real can be recreated as a knock-off fake. Hannah says however that it’s so popular in the States at the moment you can get it at ordinary drugstores, and apparently it’s the real thing because it works. My system is that I start taking it about once an hour or, if this is happening overnight, every few hours, till the symptoms either go away or become a pattern I can prescribe on. Which is what I did last night. I’m still clearly ill, but I made it to tower practice at Fustian tonight and what really matters . . . ?
* * *
* I will start taking two blankets. And a hat. I suppose it’s possible that we’ll eventually have spring and, you know, summer. When it’s, um, WARM?
** Believe it or not I keep a list of all the forum questions and comments I want to answer. It’s usually quite a long list. This plan has mostly gone the way of Ask Robin, but it might be worth re-asking something on the forum that you were actually hoping for an answer or at least a reaction to.
*** Arnica can save lives. Don’t move them or do anything silly with a badly injured person—but do give them Arnica.
† A proper epidemic will probably respond to a specific remedy or progression of remedies, but that’s for the big boys and girls, not small time amateur wonks like me. Common or garden variety plagues that are two a penny every winter—if you treat enough of them, you may see a pattern. If you’re just helping people make first-aid choices you may not. Three kids in the same family may need three different remedies, for example—or the three kids in one family may all need the same remedy but the three kids in the family next door that they caught it from need a different remedy. Yes. You have to stay alert.
†† And if you want a taste of the way the Other Side talks about homeopathy, look it up on Wiki. Any time I need reminding that Wiki is unreliable, I think about the way they treat homeopathy.
Mine is old, and was a lot cheaper. Also I was in (homeopathic) college at the time, and a bunch of us got together and took advantage of the group rate. Which was a lot cheaper than today’s group rate. A machine does cost a bomb—there are other ones than the Sulis—but if you use homeopathy at all seriously it earns back really fast. I use mine at least every week, and some weeks every day.
Since Peter never writes me GUEST POSTS any more I decided to steal a link to some of the new things happening over on his shiny new website.
” . . . I opened a file titled “Preface” and found something I’d written when it was decided that some edition of the first volume of our Elemental Spirits series, Water, ought to have a preface. I don’t remember the ins and outs of it, nor why it isn’t in the edition on my bookshelf,* but we seem to have cannibalised our efforts and come up with a composite. You will find the remains of mine, In the Mermaid Tavern: The Sea Witch, in the Short Stories section. . .”
There now. More free fiction. And KES tomorrow night.
* * *
* Because it took 1,000,000 years for your wife to write two short stories for FIRE and Putnams decided to reissue WATER in a matching edition^ and to make it a little more interesting they asked us to write a little ‘new material’. They didn’t want a whole new story or stories–which, with my track record, is just as well^^–just a sort of teasery type of thing. Like a preface. Well, we couldn’t write a preface–the nearest we’ve ever been able to come to collaborating is this alternating short stories business^^^–so we did a very condensed sort of alternating-stories thing. I don’t remember any more and I can’t find our copies of the second edition of WATER which are SOMEWHERE in Third House’s attic, but presumably THE SEA WITCH didn’t make the final cut, probably because I was having trouble not writing more novels and Peter had written about twelve short stories in frustration. Maybe he’ll find a few more in some other file.
^ The original hardback illustration had been done by Trina Schart Hyman. Siiiiiigh. She’d really liked the idea of the ELEMENTALS series, and had done roughs for all four. But the other three were too rough to use and she isn’t around any more to finish them. Sometimes my being hopeless hurts more than other times.
^^ With SUNSHINE, DRAGONHAVEN, CHALICE and THE FRELLING PEGASUS TRILOGY, all of which began life as ELEMENTALS short stories, we could have had FLOWERHAIR AND THE WATER GOBLIN+ and HETTHAR, GELJDRETH AND THE EYE OF NEWT and . . . no, no, no, let’s not go there.
+ May I just say that neither Kes nor I would put up with Dvorak’s version of the story
^^^ And an unfinished novel written in emails between an English boy and an American girl. Guess who let the side down there too. SIIIIIIIGH.
So yesterday I thought I was dying* or at least coming down with combined typhoid and cholera** . . . which might very well have had a sinister effect on my life expectancy.***
Today . . . I am not too bad. A little wombly, but not too bad. Despite the arrival of the new refrigerator which . . . remember the good old days when you ripped your appliance out of its cardboard and Styrofoam and plugged it in? This one is apparently a doctoral thesis in practical engineering ARRRRRRRRGH. Atlas is coming tomorrow to examine the problem.
* * *
* Or at least losing the will to live. A new foreign edition of BEAUTY arrived recently.
I’m really delighted when my message of active roles for women successfully crosses the translation/culture barrier.
** As a result of the little adventure with the hellterror the other night. I can’t have Lady Macbethed hard enough. Although my hands were positively sore afterwards. I did try.
*** I spent the day frantically popping homeopathy pills^—I have an assortment of hellcritters to hurtle! I have a copyedited manuscript to painstakingly de-correct^^ someone else’s idea of standard^^^ punctuation and word usage through 273 pages of in the next I-think-it’s-ten days! I have Green & Black’s to eat! I can’t be ill!
I was appalled at the statistics quoted for conventional drugs, particularly the cost of treating the side effects of those drugs.
Yep. Iatrogenic—doctor-caused—illnesses are a major killer. Depending on who you read, the third biggest killer in America, after cancer and heart disease.
I understand the bafflement, though I don’t condone the vitriol, of the establishment. I was trained in cause and effect, and I sure wish somebody could explain to me a mechanism that makes sense. Not to mention how an umpty-umpth dilution of a deadly poisonous heavy metal can help the innards.
But I agree, if it helps Darkness, it’s not just a placebo.
There’s some fairly well-documented evidence out there about what is usually called ‘the memory of water’—that water that has been succussed, which means whacking your bottle against the palm of your hand or a big heavy book or thereabouts+ has undergone permanent structural changes by the now ex-presence of the remedy base: white arsenic (Ars Alb) or club moss (Lycopodium) or whatever. So after you’ve diluted it beyond the likelihood of any atom of the ‘remedy’ remaining . . . the water is still different than it was before it was treated.
And the foundation philosophy is ‘like cures like’. Ars Alb is likely to help people presenting symptoms similar to arsenic poisoning. ::HIDEOUS OVERSIMPLIFICATION ALERT::
Placebos are another tool. The placebo effect is real, and useful. I’m sure that sometimes it’s placebo causing positive change rather than the drug—homeopathic or allopathic—but homeopathy isn’t placebo, any more than allopathy is.
True skeptics would say that Darkness’ difficulties had merely run their course and it was nothing to do with the homeopathy. I know better, of course, since it took me four or five years to figure out what worked with least trauma on these occasions—it’s a ratbag having a patient that won’t talk to you—and I remember how protracted these affairs were before I figured it out.
But you only have to see homeopathy work like magic a couple of times to realise there’s something in it. Some bruises fade as you watch, after you’ve taken your Arnica. I stopped getting black fingernails AGAIN after I shut my hand in a door AGAIN after I discovered Arnica. I’ve told you my Cantharis story, haven’t I? Speaking of being a moron+++. I’ve been baking for fifty years but I CANNOT learn not to grab a handle . . . even if it’s been sitting in a hot oven for the last hour. A few years ago I grabbed the handle of an iron skillet that had been in the Aga’s hot oven—really grabbed it, and so couldn’t let loose fast enough, and heard my flesh sizzling. By the time I let go I already had a big angry red welt . . . and I knew what a burn like this was going to be like. Among other things I wouldn’t be ringing any bells for weeks.
I ran for the Cantharis with my hand going THROB THROB THROB THROB. And started popping pills. In an ‘emergency acute’ situation like this you take them pretty rapidly—say five minutes apart—and you keep taking them till they start working. Hellhound digestion and a bad burn both take pretty serious application.
But the Mare-Crisium-sized blister that was coming up by the time I got the bottle open paused and . . . went down again. I don’t remember how many pills I took. But finally all I had to show for the experience was a faint reddish mark. It didn’t even peel. I didn’t have to interrupt my bell ringing. And I am not kidding about hearing my flesh sizzle.
. . . Did I ever tell you how Chaos got his notched ear? That’s another Arnica story.
(And Diane . . . I bookmarked the anti-bloat stifle acupressure point the last time you posted it. I don’t mean to discourage you from posting it again++ as the subject comes up again, as it will do, because the hellhounds and I are surrounded by careless idiots who throw sandwiches into the hedgerows, but it hasn’t worked for me. I don’t know if that’s because the hellhounds’ problems don’t respond or I’m doing it wrong. I incline to the latter, since I can rarely learn even a simple three-dimensional skill without someone demonstrating in three dimensions.)
+Homeopathic pharmacies have machines to do it of course.
+++ For which so far as I know there is no homeopathic treatment
^^ Under extreme duress, the splitting of infinitives is permitted.
^^^ Well it very well may be standard. Ask me if standard is likely to be the method I adhere to.