Category Archives: Horticulture

Scenes on Sunday ~ California

Southern California is the Land of Crazy Colourful Dreams

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

I like California,

and I very much like my friend in California

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Food on Friday ~ Cauliflower

Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.  ~  Mark Twain

Most will regard the humble cauliflower as a boring side dish ~ at best.  Perhaps something not to put into one’s shopping cart on a regular basis.  But, as I hope these smashing recipes from some great cooks will show you, there are a lot of exciting dishes you can make with this cruciferous vegetable.  Cauliflower is from the same plant family as broccoli, cabbage, kale, and Brussels sprouts and is said to be even better for you, in some ways, than these green vegetables.

First this week we have these cool cauliflower rice carne asada bowls with mango salsa, from Teighan Gerard at Half Baked Harvest.  This whole meal will take you an hour to make, but you can do so much with the leftovers afterwards.  Lunch at work, tacos, burritos, topped with a fried egg…

Cauliflowere Rice Carne Asada Bowls with Mango Salsa

Cauliflower cheese is a classic dish, but this creamy cauliflower gratin from Chungah at Damn Delicious is just a little bit special.  Again this easy dish will take you about an hour, and again this is something that you can reheat in the microwave at work.  Or have with a nice steak for dinner later in the week.

Creamy Cauliflower Gratin

Next, from Andrea at Cooking with a Wallflower there’s this cool dish to think about; zucchini lentil pasta with mashed cauliflower.  Made with mushrooms, squash, and grape tomatoes ~ with a side of creamy mashed cauliflower.  It looks very delicious for a midweek dinner.

Zucchini Lentil Pasta with Mashed Cauliflower

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Yvette’s Gourmet Kitchen has this brilliant looking recipe for roasted cauliflower with almonds and capers.  I think you can have this dish ready in 30 minutes. It’s vegan if you use a vegetarian substitute for the Parmesan cheese.

Roasted Cauliflower with Almonds and Capers

Here’s something exotically different and up-market from Petra at Food Eat Love; cauliflower soup with beetroot and gin cured salmon.  This dish is something for a really posh dinner party ~or be even posher than that and serve to your house-guests at breakfast.  The dish only takes 10 minutes to prepare, but you have to cure the salmon for 36 hours before that.

Cauliflower Soup with Beetroot and Gin Cured Salmon

A blog-post of cauliflower recipes wouldn’t be anything without a soup.  Ergo from Alanna at the Bojon Gourmet we have cauliflower and yellow split pea soup with turmeric and curried ghee.  Both cauliflower and turmeric are supposed to be very good for you.  This is a great soup to make a lot of, to take to work later, as it will keep for about 5 days in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower and Yellow Split Pea Soup with Turmeric and Curried Ghee

And finally this week we have our list, this time from delish. So, how about 70 crazy creative things to make with cauliflower????  These 70 cool recipes include this loaded grilled cauliflower by Lauren Miyashiro, which should take you about 20 minutes to prepare.

Loaded Grilled Cauliflower

jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

cauliflower is easy to grow, even if you only have a small garden, it’s pretty decorative too.

A Mediterranean Diet is Good for You

Is there anything a Mediterranean Diet can’t cure?

Specifically, I wonder if a Mediterranean diet can help to cure this terrible head-cold I’ve suddenly contracted?  Or more likely stop me from catching a cold in the first place? Well yes it could ~ but only if I really upped the amount of raw garlic I eat.

A diet rich in oily fish, fresh vegetables, olive oil, garlic, and nuts protects our bodies and our brains, especially as we get older.  However, to get the most benefit from a Mediterranean diet we also need to cut down on alcohol ~ one drink a day for women, (try not to spill it, and drink red wine, not white), and one or two drinks a day for men.  Lucky for me I don’t drink at all these days.  But, a glass of red wine every day is actually very good for you.

It isn’t only the Mediterranean peoples who ate that type of diet, the Vikings did too, and nobody ever accused a viking of being a sickly wuss.

Let food be thy medicine, and medicine be thy food.  ~  Hippocrates

People from the Mediterranean region have longer life expectancies and are generally healthier than people from Northern Europe and the United States of America.  The United Kingdom ranks 19th and the USA 31st in terms of average life expectancy, (out of 183 counties listed).

People from around the sunny Mediterranean have lower risks of suffering; Alzheimer’s disease,  type 2 diabetes, cancers, colitis, depression, heart diseases, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, pancreatitis, and strokes.  Trust me, you do not want to get type 2 diabetes, and you really, really, don’t want to have a stroke.

A proper Mediterranean diet isn’t all baguettes, pizza, pasta, and roasted lamb with lots of herbs.  A healthy Mediterranean diet consists of the region’s fruits, vegetables, (especially leafy greens like spinach), seafood, olive oil, cheese, and a couple of glasses of a robust red wine.  These are all anti-inflammatory foods.

But you also need to add a lot of fresh air, sunshine, and lots of physical activity to the mixture to obtain the most benefits.  If you are not already doing so, then you should walk 10,000 steps a day, both to improve your health and help prevent an early death.

Modern scientific evidence suggests that many, (some), of the health benefits of a Mediterranean diet accrue directly from all the good olive oil included in just about every recipe, dish, meal eaten around the Mare Nostrum.

Olive oil is full of monounsaturated fatty acids, (MUFAs), which are supposed to be good for you ~ at least the Mayo Clinic says that MUFAs are good for you.  In fact the well-respected Mayo Clinic says that olive oil is good for you ~ in moderation.

So; your Mediterranean diet should include;

  • The very best extra virgin olive oil you can get.  Extra virgin olive oil is the healthiest fat on Earth.  Only ever buy extra virgin olive oil.
  • Fresh fish.  The oily fish such as salmon, trout, mackerel, pilchards, and sardines are full of vitamins D, B, omega 3 fatty acids, and selenium.  Eating oily fish a couple of times a week is said to help prevent; arthritis, cardiovascular diseases, dementia, prostate cancer, schizophrenia, and blindness / impaired vision.
  • Green fruits and vegetables.  It seems that eating green plant stuff can reduce the risk of cancer, helps maintain strong bones and good teeth, and promotes the health of your eyesight in your senior years.  Popeye was right all along, spinach is good for you ~ and so are kale and dandelion leaves.
  • Garlic.  Everyone knows that Mediterranean people eat a lot of garlic.  The Ancient Egyptians used garlic as a medicine.  Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed a hell of a lot of garlic.  The health benefits of garlic include; fighting off allergies, keeping bacterial and viral infections at bay, improving your skin, prevents colds and sore throats, reduces the risk of thrombosis, lowers blood pressure, reduces the risk of cardiovascular diseases, helps prevent type 2 diabetes, reduces cancer risks, helps beat anaemia, and improves your sex life, (if she can stand the smell).  If you can manage it, eat raw garlic, especially if you have dental problems.
  • Nuts and seeds.  Walnuts, almonds and other nuts are good for your heart.  It seems nuts and seeds contain lots of unsaturated fats, omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, fibre, vitamin E, and something called L-arginine.  Allegedly L-arginine does wonders for your sex life.
  • A glass of a robust red wine, (when I was drinking I would always choose an Italian red).  The health benefits of red wine were known as far back as the ancient Egyptians.  It seems a regular glass of red wine boosts heart health, lowers bad cholesterol, reduces the risk of degenerative diseases, helps reduce he risks of type 2 diabetes, stops you being so obese, and may prevent Alzheimer’s

However, some things about the Mediterranean lifestyle are very, very bad for you. Men from the Mediterranean coasts of; Spain, France, Corsica, Italy, Greece, (and less desirable places like Slovenia, Bosnia, Croatia and Albania), smoke far too much, drive like maniacs in unroadworthy heaps, drive when they’re drunk, and sleep in the afternoons when they’re drunk.  In medieval Hell-Holes like Turkey, Syria, Morocco, Algeria, Libya, and Egypt you will just get ripped off and / or assaulted / shot / blown up.

And yet, parts of the Mediterranean are among the most beautiful, most magical, most spiritual places on this Mother Earth.  Guys, take your girl there, soon and often.

I’m glad I am a woman who once danced naked in the Mediterranean Sea at Midnight.  ~  Mercedes McCambridge

A Mediterranean Diet is not only good for you, it has some utterly fabulous, great tasting recipes.  Mix Mediterranean with Paleo and you may well have the perfect diet for your health, fitness, well-being, and gustatory satisfaction.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

get robust red wine delivered

Old Wives’ Tales are True ~ Mostly

Folklore connects us with the wisdom of centuries past.

Modern science has ‘proved’ that old-fashioned weather lore is pretty accurate ~ for England anyhow, and what Gentleman really cares about any place but England?  We shouldn’t call them old wives’ tales because much true ancient lore comes from sailors, soldiers, and farmers.  Weather lore is often very accurate.  And while older people often give good advice, the wisdom of ages past, seniors don’t much like taking advice from the young.

Advice in old age is foolish; for what can be more absurd than to increase our provisions for the road the nearer we approach to our journey’s end.  ~  Marcus Tullius Cicero.

Going back beyond Roman Times, our oral history is full of rhymes, anecdotes, adages, warnings, and axioms.  They wouldn’t have lasted this long if there wasn’t a lot of truth in them.

  • Red sky at night, sailors delight.  This appears in the Bible, where it relates to shepherds.  It means that if the sky is red at sunset, then tomorrow will be a fine day ~ and this is mostly accurate.  In fact this saying is utterly reliable when the weather comes in mostly from the west, as happens in Great Britain.
  • Mackerel sky and mares tails make tall ships carry low sails.  If there are high clouds that look like the scales of a fish, (altocumulus), and / or streaky clouds like a horse’s tail, (cirrus), then we are due for a storm with high winds within the day ~ allegedly.  As it goes, this is always true.  A prudent skipper will be ready to shorten sail if he sees a mackerel sky.
  • St. Swithun’s Day.  If it rains on St. Swithun’s day then it will rain for the next 40 days and nights.  This lore, and the poem that goes with it can be traced back to the 14th Century, but probably goes as far back as the 9th Century in Southern England.  It’s mostly not true ~ we never get 40 days and nights of consistent weather in England.  However, St Swithun’s Day, (or St. Swithin’s Day), is on July 15th, and you can guarantee that if it does rain on that day England will have a wash-out of a summer.  As a matter of fact, it rained all day here on St. Swithun’s day this year, and the weather has been very wet ever since then.
  • It’s too cold for snow.  In England this saying is true.  It can be too cold for it to snow.  Actually the whole saying is a misconception, it should really be ‘it’s too dry to snow’.  Very cold air is always dry air, because only warmer air will carry water vapour, and you need water vapour in the air to have snow.  It almost never snows in bitterly cold Antarctica.
  • A ring around the moon means rain or snow is coming soon.  This is very true, and also applies to predicting the arrival of a hurricane.  The ring around the moon, (less frequently a ring around the sun), is due to ice crystals forming in cirrus clouds in the high atmosphere.  If you remember cirrus clouds are also the mare’s tails that predict storms.
  • A stitch in time saves nine.  This saying goes at least as far back as the 18th century in England, and it’s completely true, relevant today, and utterly applicable to our lives.  What is means is that if you sort out a small problem now, it will save you from it growing into a much bigger problem in the future.  It is exactly analogous to that other saying One year’s seeds is seven years weeds, which appears in Shakespeare’s Richard II.  Ignore a small problem and it will soon grow into a great big problem.  Ignore acorns and before you know where you are you will be up to your armpits in oak trees.
  • There will be the devil to pay.  Meaning that if we do something very bad there will be terrible consequences later.  This is always true.  This saying has nothing whatsoever to do with Satan ~ like many English epigrams it has maritime origins.  ‘The Devil’ was the longest seam on a planked wooden ship, and ‘Paying’ means caulking.  If you’ve ever done it you’ll know that caulking a seam on a boat is a heartless task, involving thick string-like stuff, tar, a special caulking chisel, a hammer, and a lot of time.

A hell of a lot of English folklore goes back at least as far as the Roman occupation of Britain; for example ‘If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need’.  This saying is supposedly from Marcus Tullius Cicero, who died in 43 BC.

The snag with using folklore for your weather forecasts is that you don’t get to see the cute weather girls on TV.  Seems a guy can’t have everything.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

 

 

check out this book

Air Pollution and Insomnia

The health effects of air pollution imperil human lives.

So, you have trouble sleeping?  Air pollution in your bedroom could be the reason you suffer from insomnia.  If the air in your bedroom isn’t as sparkling clean and clear as the freshest mountain breeze, it’s quite likely that you will suffer from insomnia.

The clever people in white coats tell us that people living in areas with raised nitrogen dioxide levels, (for example if you live near a busy road), were up to 60% more likely to suffer from sleep deprivation than were people living in places that had clean air.

These new findings indicate the possibility that commonly experienced levels of air pollution not only affect heart and lung disease, but also sleep quality.  ~  Dr. Martha E. Billings

Air pollution increases the risk of you having breathing problems during sleep ~ which will naturally wake you up, or at least give you poor quality sleep.  Breathing problems during sleep have also been linked to night terrors and nightmares.

So what can you do to improve the quality of the air you breathe in your home, and especially in your bedroom at night?

  • Use non toxic paints when you decorate.
  • Sanitize your telephone frequently, and never use the phone late at night, or when you’ve been drinking.  And, never, ever smoke in your bedroom.
  • Choose hard floors over carpets ~ carpets are just a jungle of muck, dirt, pet dander and dust.  If you can’t easily change your flooring vacuum at least twice a week.
  • Choose solid wood furniture over composites which will give off formaldehyde over time.
  • Turn your mattress frequently, use a washable mattress topper and wash it weekly
  • Use allergen proof pillows, and change your pillowcases every couple of days.  Change all your bed linen weekly.
  • Don’t put clothes you have worn outside on the bed.
  • Open the windows on breezy days to air your home.
  • Buy an air purifier for the bedroom.  The EPA has a guide to air cleaners in the home.
  • Have air filtering plants in your home, especially in your bedroom.  Choose low-maintenance varieties such as; Mother-in-Law’s Tongue / Snake Plant, Spider Plant, Garden Mum, (the garden mum removes formaldehyde, benzine, and trichloroethylene from the air), Boston Fern, and the Peace Lily.  Think about a nice, green, air filtering plant on your desk at work.

Our homes are not the safe haven we think they are.  Most people are adversely affecting their health just by breathing the air in their homes and offices.  You too can be affected in lots of ways when you are continually exposed to the polluted air in your own bedroom, and particularly around your own bed.  You may suffer problems such as; skin complaints, breathing difficulties, and insomnia.

Sleep disturbance is especially common in women, starting at their midlife.  As good sleep is essential for good health, it’s important that we do something to improve the quality of our rest at night.  And it behoves us to improve the quality of our sleep, starting right now.

O sleep, O gentle sleep.  Nature’s soft nurse, how I have frightened thee.  That though no more will weigh my eyelids down, And steep my senses in forgetfulness.  ~  Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 2

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

 

Your dirty phone may be affecting your health.

Air Purifier at Amazon

prebiotics for health

With good digestion all can be turned to health.

Most people know about probiotics ~ which are ‘good’ bacteria mostly found in dairy products such as live yogurt.  Many of us buy products containing probiotics in order to improve our health.  The snag is, which among all the myriads of bacteria in the probiotics we buy are actually ‘good’ for our own unique body and gastrointestinal tract?  When we take probiotics we are taking on trust that whatever is in the live yogurt we’ve just bought will benefit us ~ and it might not.  Most probiotics in products such as yogurt are proprietary strains of bacteria created in a laboratory, and yet they are not subject to regulation.

Putting probiotics into foods that don’t naturally have the beneficial bacteria might not make these products healthier, higher quality, or worthwhile additions to the diet.  ~  Dr. Patricia Hibberd

In any event, some of us can’t abide yogurt and most other dairy products that might contain probiotics.  Milk makes me feel sick.

So what’s the alternative?  Turns out it’s prebiotics which act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria that’s already in our gastrointestinal tract.  Prebiotics help your own ‘good’ bacteria to grow and stay healthy.  Prebiotics have many benefits that makes them a better idea than probiotics.

Why should I care one iota about the bacteria I’m carrying around in my intestines?  It seems that the bacteria in our gut has a major influence on our health and general well-being.  Some of the smart people in white coats aver that the bacteria in our intestines are even more important than that ~ allegedly our bacteria even affects our moods and behaviours.  Some say that our gut bacteria is our body’s second brain.  And, that the way people think is linked to the bacteria in their gut.  All I know is that if I eat the wrong stuff I feel slow, lethargic, and miserable.

All disease begins in the gut.  ~  Hippocrates

It’s the ‘good’ bacteria in the gut that actually digests most of the food we eat, looks after our immune system, and protects us from seriously harmful bacteria.  Our ‘good’ bacteria are essential for our good health.  Without these ‘good’ bacteria we can become prone to nasty illnesses such as; acne, early aging, autism, asthma, allergies, cancers, cardiovascular problems, colitis, anxiety and depression, diabetes, obesity, stress, ulcers, vitamin deficiency…

I need to look after my ‘good’ bacteria, and one way to do this is to eat high-fibre foods rich in the prebiotics that act as a fertiliser for the ‘good’ bacteria already in my gut.  There’s a long list, but mostly these prebiotics are raw vegetables which are quite indigestible; raw Jerusalem artichoke, raw dandelion greens, raw leeks, under-ripe banana, raw garlic, raw asparagus, raw chicory root, raw wheat bran, and onions any way you like them.  (Thank the Gods for the onions and banana ~ the rest of that list looks yuck.)  Also honey is a very potent prebiotic, as is unpasteurised apple cider vinegar, (such as Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar).

Turns out that sushi containing cooked and cooled rice is a rich source of prebiotics.  I hate sushi.

Almost nothing influences our gut bacteria as much as the food we eat.  Prebiotics are the most powerful tool at our disposal if we want to support our good bacteria ~ that is, those that are already there and are there to stay.  ~  Giulia Enders.

Prebiotics have several well-documented health benefits;

  • Improved digestion.
  • Enhanced immune system.
  • Better uptake of dietary calcium and magnesium.
  • Stronger bones, increased bone density.
  • Cancer prevention.
  • Reduced risk of dementia and other neurological disorders.
  • Reduced risk of high blood pressure and strokes.
  • Reduced risk of diabetes.
  • Better controlled weight and appetite.
  • Improved bowel regularity.
  • Better balanced hormones.
  • Reduced propensity to anxiety and depression.
  • More energy and better concentration.

Your body is colonized by a vast array of microorganisms that modulate every aspect of your health and physiology, moment to moment, and you can optimize your health by nourishing and protecting these microbes.  ~  Dr. David Perlmutter and Dr. Mercola

If you want to make the most of an increased intake of prebiotics, then under no circumstances drink diet soda, eat anything made with wheat flour, have too much refined sugar, drink too much booze, eat pasteurised flavoured yogurt, buy cereal bars or breakfast cereals, eat chips, (crisps), of any kind, and especially never have anything with high fructose corn syrup in it.  High fructose corn syrup is highly addictive and extremely bad for you.

In fact, whether you’re eating more prebiotics or not, don’t have anything listed in the preceding paragraph ~ all of those things are very bad for you.

The conclusion is; taking probiotics is most likely a waste of time, and could possibly be doing you harm, especially if you take your probiotics as a yogurt drink.  Conversely, eating foods rich in prebiotics will most likely improve your health and help to stave off several nasty, or even life-threatening illnesses.  For fitness in body, mind, and spirit, as well as improved health overall, it’s worth fertilising the ‘good’ bacteria already in your gut with prebiotics.

Luckily for me a Paleo diet is supposed to good for giving you lots of prebiotics.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

click on the picture

to buy apple cider vinegar

Flowers for Love

A rose by any other name would smell as sweet.

not every woman loves the same flower

nor wants the same flower from her love

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Flowers

Things haven’t been going to well for me recently ~ so, I wanted to post something happy and pretty today.  I hope that you all like these flowers.

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jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

flower faces

expression of delicate frustration

turning a painted face to the sun

perfumed treasured spring bloom

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words and pictures by jack collier

jackcollier7@talktalk.net

Medicinal Plants ~ Rosehips

p1050182

Autumn is upon us, and in England the hedgerows are full wild harvest.  One of these is the false fruit of the dog rose, (rosa canina), more commonly known in England as rose hips.

p1050177You can do a lot of stuff with rose hips, from making syrups and jams, to my preferred use which is to make a tincture of rose hips and rosemary in apple cider vinegar.  As well as sweetening and adding taste to the cider vinegar. the rose hips also add diuretic, lithontriptic, and mild laxative qualities to your brew.  As for rosemary, this stuff is almost a cure-all.  I just add an odd number of fresh sprigs to the bottle, (it must be an odd number.)

The finished product, (ready in about 6 weeks and will keep for a year or more), is a great basis for a salad dressing.  Diluted in water it is also a first class tonic and as part of a whole-body cleanse.  There is no truth whatsoever in the rumour that this is a female aphrodisiac.  However, it is supposed to be a cure for practically whatever that ails you.

You can also make a true tincture of rose hips using medicinal alcohol, (or vodka).  For those of us with a real taste for booze, just make a rose hip brandy or vodka.  I have even heard of rose hip gin, although I’ve never tasted it.

The dog rose is an important plant to the herbalist, because the leaves, petals, and hips all have their uses.  In a hedgerow, the plant may reach six feet or more in height, its flowers can be anything from white to a delicate pink, and if will guard its bounty with some particularly persistent thorns.  (You can also use the hips, leaves, and petals of the cultivated rose, but I would look for a rose variety that’s as close to the wild rose as possible.)

The mixture of rose hips, rosemary, and organic apple cider vinegar is as near to a sorcerer’s brew as anything I know.

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canina1jackcollier7@talktalk.net

liebster-12

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