Sunday, September 26, 2010

Adapting to a new environment

For the majority of my life I lived in Pennsylvania. I knew what was in season, and that included deer, trout, and sunfish as wild game. You could always find some venison in my freezer and I most certainly had some fish every summer. Now I live in Oregon and while some things are similar, but there are some new meats in my life. Oregon has a lot of fish. Salmon and Steelhead trout swim in our rivers here, and Dan went out for Steelhead, so we have some tasty fillets in our freezer. The fishing industry is huge in Oregon. The thing to do here in the Pacific Northwest is to can your own fish. My friend from Alaska canned 20 pounds of Coho Salmon from the Columbia River just on the border of our city last year in one weekend, and that included a fishing trip. After hearing about that feat, I decided it was time to start canning fish. I started this year with the most common, and cheapest, fish-tuna. This was truly an adventure. It started with a road trip to Astoria, OR around 100 miles from Portland. We went to a small fish shop and purchased a 18 pound tuna, already 'loined out'. The price was $2.09/lb. and the charge a $7 fee for the butchering job, which is just fine by me. Since we were there we fit in a hike along the coast at the most northern point in Oregon followed up with a dinner of fish 'n' chips at a brewpub. The canning was relatively straight-forward thanks to the Blue Book (an essential for any canner), the processing was long...1 hour and 40 minutes, plus cooling. Pressure canning is cool because when the jars come out they boil for a long time, and it's kind of fun to watch. Why eat local tuna instead of just a can of chicken-of-the-sea? Because it's better for you and the environment. Many grocery-store tuna cans can't compare to this, in fact we once purchased a local tuna can of 6 oz. for $8 (it was amazing). The cheap tuna is typically imported from south-east Asia, questionably harvested, full of mercury, and over-processed. My tuna came off the fishing boat and went right up to the fish shop I bought it at the night before. The fishermen use the fish waste from butchering as bait that they collect from the shop later. Not much shipping or waste there, besides our car, to do a hike/adventure that we would have done anyway. Fish off the coast of Oregon are caught using hook-and-line methods which is much more sustainable, and since the water temperature is perfect for pretty much only tuna, there are few other fish 'accidentally' caught. The fisheries are abundant and sustainably harvested. Health-wise, Oregon tuna are amazing. They have very low mercury levels, since the fish are on-average younger and have had fewer years of biomagnification. (Then again, we wouldn't have to worry about mercury levels of fish at all if the world could just stop burning fossil fuels, but that's a whole other post.) A huge benefit of Oregon tuna is their Omega-3 levels. They have much higher levels of this essential fatty acid than imported (leaner) tuna. Canning methods count too. Most cans of tuna you find in the grocery store are cooked before being processed. The cooking process makes them loose some of their oils and also their flavor. At the recommendation of the Oregon Albacore Commission I used the raw pack method. This method involved cutting up the tuna into jar-sized pieces, packing them into jars, adding a half-tsp. of salt, filling the extra space with boiling water, and then processing. This retains the natural fish oils and flavors. I hope this post encourages you to adapt to whatever environment you find yourself in, and preserving some local abundance in season just may come into play for you too.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Fall Eqinox Pizza

One of the best things about eating local is that you never really get tired of eating anything because you have it only for a short while. Just when I'm starting to get slightly weary of salads-and I still really had my fill-fall rolls in. It's cooler out now and I am looking for something a little more substantial. Last night I made some delicious pizza, which might be the best thing I ever put in my mouth. I added some sausage to please my meat-loving boy, but not too much and you can certainly cut it out without cutting out any of the deliciousness. Start by making your pizza dough, whichever recipe you love most. While it's rising make the topping. In a skillet start by sauteing one onion (cut into strips) in a bit of oil. Once this gets a nice brown color add in two links of sausage, one hot, one sweet, both local and sustainable pork, sliced into bite-size chunks. Chop mushrooms, I used cantrells and portabellos that the CSA delivered (first of the season!) and add them to the skillet along with a couple cloves of garlic, chopped. De-stem a bunch of chard, chop the stems and add them as well. Once the food cooks enough to be tender add the chard leaves (chopped) to the mix, lid it, and let the leaves steam. After a few minutes the chard will wilt down enough to be stirred in. After combining everything add a small pat of butter and stir until melted. Remove from heat. Once your crust has risen, make it into a pizza-shape, oil the crust and salt and pepper it. Arrange the topping. Shave a nice layer of Parmesan cheese all over the top (optional). Bake for about 10 minutes at 425. Obviously temperatures and times will be determined by your particular crust. Enjoy this. It's definitely worth all the love and labor.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Back to Basics-Ahimsa

Recently I suffered a pretty serious rib injury and my practice went on a hiatus. Further, it was the end of the school term here at Western States Chiropractic College resulting in increasing stress and decreasing sleep. Now I have a two week break from school and have healed enough to practice asana again. Over this break I'm getting back to the basics, the yamas and niyamas, one each weekday and practicing every day. Yesterday was my ahimsa day. I pulled out my philosophy workbook from teacher training to see how I felt about this yama when I focused on it for an entire week. We were asked to define ahimsa for ourselves, my entry read: I think that ahimsa should start with how you treat yourself. This means proper rest, nourishment, and stimulation. Secondly it applies to how you relate to the world: not being wasteful, making conscious choices about your day-to-day activities. Thirdly it is how you treat others, namely your actions, words, and lastly your thoughts about others. You should strive to be kind. Two actions that popped out at me from my week of reflection were these: proper nourishment, and find ways to reduce your workload so you can focus on the more important things. Non-violence toward myself has certainly been lacking lately with the end-of-term stress by staying up late, getting up early, and eating food that's not the best for me. My nourishment needed work. I set out to remedy the situation. For lunch I made a salad with beautiful summer squash, lettuce, spinach, zucchini, tomato, beets, and a hard-boiled egg...all lovingly delivered in the CSA box, besides the beets that my mom canned for me before the move to Oregon. For dinner I cooked chickpeas, black beans, and red beans (with the help of my new favorite pressure cooker, I highly recommend them) and made a chili with fresh green peppers and jalapenos and a can of tomatoes. Since this was a giant pot of will last Dan and myself through the week and I can focus on other important things. I love big pots of soup! Yesterday's practice consisted of tentative trials of a few asana here and there. Today I had my first real practice in weeks. I could hear Jill's mantra in my mind the whole time, "Practice in a way that you can still practice tomorrow." This is certainly ahimsa. So, instead of pushing my tight hips and newly healed chest, I modified. Instead of 10 surya namaskaras, there were 5 without one jump-back. I practiced the entire standing series, but only a few asana in the primary series. I listened to what my body was saying and just ended the practice right there with a nice long twist and savasana. Because apparently, there are only so many chatturangas this costosternal joint was willing to stand for today.