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Connected to Nature

I think it is important that we stay connected to nature. We are natural beings and the environment in which we live is important. It is one aspect of how we all remain connected to one another.

One of the ways we can connect to Nature is through our food. Cooking is something everyone did for survival and is something that can be elevated to a luxury. However, it takes real attentiveness and discipline to understand how food becomes so delicious.

Shiny cooking potCooking

I spent a year and a half teaching myself how to cook. It wasn’t all on my own. I took a couple of cooking classes, one to learn basic kitchen skills and another to learn how to bake bread. However, the inspiration for the year and a half cooking project came from a movie where a character learned about food by just trying things. I decided all I needed to do was to pick recipes and make dinners. Slowly, I picked up insights into how to mix and match foods, what to expect from some of the different cooking techniques and even came up with a few original recipes of my own.

A few basic insights are:

  • use different tastes to play off each other so all flavors are enhanced
  • keep flavors simple
  • cut things evenly to cook things evenly
  • 350 degrees Fahrenheit is the basic temperature for baking
  • higher stove heat cooks the outside while lower stove heat allows more even heat penetration
  • taste new foods all the time

Body Ecology Diet bookDiet

No matter how you like to eat, make eating an intentional act not just a reaction. During my years, I’ve adjusted how I eat after I learned to pay attention to two fundamentally different drives. The obvious drive is eating for hunger, which is fairly easy to notice. Typically, energy level drops and the stomach grumbles. The common but sometimes more elusive drive is the taste craving. People tend to eat as if they’re hungry when they really just want a taste in their mouth. It helps to find ways to satisfy taste cravings that don’t contribute much to consumption in order to satisfy the craving while preventing overeating.

The diet I’ve adopted (mostly) is the Body Ecology Diet. It follows some basic eating guidelines that help me make smarter food choices:

  • eat either 1) proteins with non-starchy vegetables, or 2) starches with non-starchy vegetables
  • eat to 80% full, and 80% non-starchy vegetables
  • eat toward a more alkaline and less acidic diet

For a complete list of principles and more information check out

the Body Ecology Diet – visit the website

Foraging and Fermenting

I’ve recently been exploring foraging for wild foods and fermenting foods. I found a website for foraging classes around Portland. I took classes on how to identify and collect wild edible plants, from introduction to foraging to wild berry picking. The introductory class helped me understand the basics of foraging, from learning the pitfalls of different foraging books to figuring out why people get disillusioned with foraging when they pick and eat dandelions (psst…if you don’t like bitter, the only edible part of the dandelion is the flower). I put my learning to use that year when I went camping. I identified edible berries around the campground, collected several and served them with whipped cream.

Wild Food Adventures – visit the website

sauerkraut-day15-200I ordered a simpler book on cultured foods and tried making my own sauerkraut. It seemed too simple. Just chop up some cabbage and seal it in a mason jar. I found out later that you have to remove chlorine from the water if you really want good results. Obviously, water in cities is chlorinated as an “antibiotic”, or bacterial growth inhibitor, that keeps both good and bad bacteria from growing. With this discovery, my fermenting project began. I’ve been trying fermenting based on the book, The Art of Fermentation, by Sandor Ellix Katz and Michael Pollan.

The Art of Fermentation – find on