Welcome to my website - a place where I explore the intersection of plants and people. My blog focuses on 5 themes:  Grow, Cook, Heal, Make and Trek.

 Enjoy your visit!


COOK: Homemade Italian Sausage

COOK: Homemade Italian Sausage

When you start snooping around into how food is made you discover things you really don’t want know. I enjoy pork sausage and all of the various seasonings to flavor it but commercially made sausage often contains quite a bit of sugar, corn syrup, excessive fat, MSG, bread crumbs and sometimes different kinds of animal parts that don’t have to be revealed.

Popular commercially-made sausage is made with meat from factory farmed hogs. Their quality of life is horrible and the treatment of workers in the slaughterhouses has become worse, not better. Going vegan is one option, but it did not work for me metabolically.  Because I eat meat, I want to support local livestock farmers who are doing things differently:

  • Raising animals on pasture their entire lives

  • Treating their animals humanely

  • Use no antibiotics, no hormones, no GMOs

  • No use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers

  • No-till practices on pasture soil

  • Energy efficient uses of water and electricity

  • Use of local foods to supplement feeding whenever possible

I am fortunate to have access to several farmers who humanely raise healthy animals and take care of the land that supports their efforts. For those of you in the Columbia River Gorge, Treebird Farm, owned by a young farming family, offers pork, beef, chicken, and lamb. Supporting local small farmers is critical for maintaining a strong regional food system.

Healthy pigs grazing on pasture who have a view of Mount Hood!

Healthy pigs grazing on pasture who have a view of Mount Hood!

One of the realities of locally produced, high-quality meat is that it’s more expensive than factory-farmed, grocery store meat. For me, that meant some behavior changes: Instead of eating meat every night, I eat meat 2- 3 times per week, and have added more wild-caught fish to my diet. I also eat vegetarian several times a week. My serving size of meat is also reduced so I eat more vegetables. And I waste nothing!

One of the benefits of living in a region filled with orchards.

One of the benefits of living in a region filled with orchards.

Lastly, pasture-raised meats are more nutritious than animals raised in CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation). Pasture-raised pork is healthier, with more micronutrients, more vitamins E and D and higher in minerals. You can read more about the many benefits of pasture-raised meat here.

RECIPE: Italian Seasoning for Pork Sausage

1 pound pasture-raised ground pork

1 tablespoon dried basil

1 tablespoon dried oregano

1 tablespoon dried marjoram

1 tablespoon salt

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 teaspoon each of dried garlic and onion powder

1 teaspoon dried fennel seed powder (or crush fennel seeds in mortar & pestle)

½ - 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes

½ teaspoon of dried thyme, crumbled

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

Set pork in bowl 15 minutes before mixing to allow it to warm up a bit which makes it easier to combine.

Combine all herbs in a small bowl. I like spicy sausage so I am heavy-handed when measuring my herbs and spices. Add to ground pork and using hands, mix well.  

Make small patties for breakfast use, mix with ground beef to make Italian meatballs or cook loosely to add to sauces, soups and quiches.

GROW: Bee Balm

GROW: Bee Balm

GROW: 5 Easy Cool Season Vegetables for Spring

GROW: 5 Easy Cool Season Vegetables for Spring