Thoughts On The “Slow Food” Movement

This piece of prose is meant to serve a dual purpose: provide a life update and artistically reflect on 2020.


Have you heard of this thing? It’s called, “Slow Food.”

I shake my head. “Isn’t that cooking?”

“No, no. Not like that.” Judgmental tuts put me in my place.

People are always waiting to tell other people they’re breathing the wrong way because it isn’t the way they learned how to breathe.

I stare at my ceiling as my partner falls asleep. “Is my food meant to be causing constipation?” What is meant by slow? Sounds uncomfortable.

2020 distorts time like light passing through water and glass – the concentrated pockets brighten momentarily, but fade into the surrounding textures and patterns. I’m reminded of Bay Time – of a place in my past that no longer exists – when waking up during the blue hour meant a circuit of nets and crab pots, checking juvenile oyster baskets for conchs as they float tethered and returning by mid-morning on a clear day – when our family’s laughter sparkled off the water for hours as we chattered and picked steamed crab from exoskeletons. Hand-packed. Frozen. Thawed. Remembered.

Did I remember to respond to those emails last week? What about those interview questions I was going to write? What is Slow Food?

I create daily menus as my partner’s coworkers abandon ship for economic mirages. The grass is always greener… says the cow chewing cud.

What started as a chance to write 6 books turns into 6 unfinished books and 4 shelved ones. No one reads this. Why would anyone want to? Is there a world where my words matter?

“No, no. Not like that.” Say the rejections I receive.

I search for staff writing and editing positions at places that might acknowledge and apologize for microaggressions. Where I would feel safe bringing them up. I try to imagine a writing position where I could continue to find growth. I take two weeks off wondering if they’ve realized I’m the only staff editor they didn’t acknowledge the birthday of yet.

“No, no. Not like that.” Says the writing group I try out, but don’t feel comfortable going back to after the group leader says those that are talented at writing fiction are narcissists… after she compliments my ability to write fiction.

I read antique poetry books for inspiration and tell myself I’ll finish A Hundred Different Skies. I’ll finish at least one to be sure. But no one will read it. Why would they? Not even my family supports me anymore.

I stop getting on Twitter after our friend dies. He’s not the first death this year. My heart hurts. I’m told to take care of myself, but in isolation it’s not that simple. The words don’t come when I try to talk about the brick building on Poquoson Ave. I begin seriously considering mortuary school again.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” I stare at these pages of unpolished text.

I lose a close friend to schizophrenia. She creates 15+ phone numbers and iMessage accounts to call and harass me about how I am the grey goo in her computer — about how I knew about the people living in her walls — about how the literary magazine I gave her in Summer 2018 predicted all of this. I try not to dwell on wedding pictures. My voicemail box fills regularly to the point my doctors can’t get ahold of me.

For the first summer since undergrad I lose count of the number of times I’ve been camping. This feels like the correct number of times. I start to wish I didn’t have to go home and find myself learning how to do seasonal prepping of food for the winter. I already knew.

“Have you tried Slow Food?”

“Isn’t that cooking?” My entire life has changed, but I haven’t found a new normal. Nothing is normal, and the only thing “slow” is Schrödinger’s Time in this box of a year trying to tell me everything is both fine and not fine at the same time.

But “No, no. Not like that,” says the world as it spins madly on.


Thank you so much for taking the time to read my writing today. If you enjoyed this piece, please like, comment, and/or share it. This helps me know which posts my readers enjoy the most.

Lo Is Domestic AF: Saskatoon Berry Biscuits

I love exploring new and unusual foods that break the normal monocultures people expect – particularly, wild edible foods.

It had been a while since I did a recipe comparable to the Ship of Theseus, so it seemed time to make that happen again. I hope everyone is ready 🙂

Pictured above are Saskatoon berries. While similar to huckleberries or blueberries, Saskatoon berries do have a higher quantity of amygdalin than some other fruits and this breaks down into hydrogen cyanide. Eating too much of any fruit containing large amounts of amygdalin will you sick, but heat will break this down easily.

But how do you use them? In baking! Today, I’m going to share my recipe for Saskatoon berry biscuits. I based the recipe on one for blueberry drop biscuits, but I made quite a few significant changes to all of the ingredients to the point that it’s no longer the same recipe. Additionally, please keep in mind that the baking process heats the berries to a toasty 500 F (260 C) for ~10 minutes and helps guarantee that the berries are safe to eat for sensitive populations.

It’s important that you always wash berries before you cook with them. I removed all kinds of twigs and things from these before I added these to the dough, but I’m getting ahead of myself.

So, besides approximately 1 cup* of Saskatoon berries, what other supplies will I need? You can replace 1 cup of Saskatoon berries with a cup of huckleberries or local wild blueberry relative – I’m sure Maine blueberries would be divine!

*I include metric measurements for all of my ingredients at the bottom of this post

Because I try to reduce the overall sugar content of these recipes, I use Truvia sweetener baking mix.

I make my own self rising flour using Namaste flour blend (though you can use any cup for cup gluten free flour blend containing xantham gum). You may find that you need to adjust the ratios depending on the humidity and elevation of where you are living. I baked these biscuits at 3500 feet (1067 meters) above sea level and about 30% humidity.

The next task is to combine all dry ingredients called for – in this case it’s the sugar substitute and the self rising gluten free flour blend. Make sure to take your time with this step because uneven mixing can create issues. The one thing I would have changed while making this recipe is that I would have added a sifting step (I do not own a sifter).

Before we go any further, make sure your oven is preheating to a toasty 500 F (260 C) and get a vent fan going. At that temperature if you have anything baked to the inside of your oven, your smoke alarms will let you know.

Next, we add the dairy free milk option.

Let’s make something really clear: I’m from The South. I like my fats. They make everything taste good. In the drop biscuits I grew up with we used butter and full fat buttermilk, so I thought why not use coconut oil and canned coconut milk?

It takes a bit more effort though – because canned coconut milk comes out looking like this:

Doesn’t that look appetizing?

To fix this, place the bowl in the microwave for 15 seconds, then stir, and repeat until smooth. You’ll end up with a homogenous and smooth coconut milk.

Okay! We have all of our wet ingredients, fats, fruits and dry ingredients. Before we go any further be sure to double check your berries for stems and ripeness.

Next, add the coconut oil and start cutting (with 2 knives) the coconut oil into the dry ingredient mixture until you end up with dry pea sized granules.

Next, slowly add your coconut milk little by little and continue cutting in until the dough pulls away from the sides of the bowl and the majority of the mix looks moistened.

It should looks something like what I have pictured below:

Now, add your berries and very gently (as to avoid squishing them) fold in your fresh berries. I did the folding part with a flat wooden spoon.

Once fully incorporated, move to a plastic or silicone mat and get a wooden rolling pin (marble or silicone may work here too) and gently roll out dough mass into a 1 inch (~2.5 cm) thick mass. I used a medium sized biscuit cutter, but the choice is yours. A smaller sized biscuit cutter will likely double the yield.

Continue to cut, transfer to a greased cookie sheet. If you can’t cut, reshape and gentle roll out without pushing the dough down with force – you do not want to squish the dough particles together!

A medium biscuit cutter yielded 8 biscuits, but the small may yield closer to 12-16 depending on how big your small sized biscuit cutter is.

Once the biscuits have started to get a nice golden brown appearance on top they are cooked through. Go ahead and take them out of the oven, but let them cool to at least 100 F (37.8 C) before serving. Cook time will vary based on a number of factors – these took approximately 10 minutes in our gas oven.

I’m so happy to have been able to share this recipe of Theseus with you today! While none of the ingredients matched the original version I based this on, it turned out fantastic. Therefore, I am going to put it out into the world and call this one a success.

Ingredients (Summary)

  • 2 cups (480 g) gluten free self-rising flour
  • 1/3 cup (80 g) truvia baking sugar substitute
  • 1/4 cup (60 g) coconut oil, non-melted
  • 2/3 – 3/4 cup (160 – 180 mL) canned coconut milk, warmed and blended smooth
  • 1 cup (240 g) fresh Saskatoon (or other local wild) berries (frozen may work too)

Did you give this recipe a try? What did you think? Have you ever cooked with Saskatoon berries? Are you a fan? Let me know in the comments below!

Thank you so much for taking the time out of your day to read about this recipe. If you enjoyed this post, please like, share, and/or leave a comment. This helps me know which posts my readers like best. I hope you are well and I encourage you to try new things, experiment, and don’t be afraid to replace ingredients if you’re allergic to them. You’d be amazed what you might discover!

Things That Influence My Writing: Montana Cow Mutilations

Newspaper clipping from the Billings Gazette, October 10, 1975

**Content Warning: This post discusses the killing and mutilation of animals by unknown perpetrator(s) over the past 50+ years in the United States. As a non-beef eater myself, reader discretion is advised**

While the world is caught up with everything that is 2020 (do you have your apocalypse bingo card yet?) I’d like to visit an ongoing state and national news story that captured my attention when I first moved to Montana in 2013. In October, 2019, new developments arose. I think it’s time to share this news with readers for the purpose of distraction. So, I’ll compile some basic information here. While I have some thoughts on what the possible explanations could be, I will save those for the end.

Cow Mutilations

From the GIPHY keyboard

On October 2, 2019 the Billings Gazette reported a new report of 5 dead cattle being found in Salem, Oregon. While tragic, the random death of cattle in the Pacific Northwest would not turn heads under normal circumstances. These were not normal circumstances. Instead, this was the newest report in an ongoing series of documented cow mutilations throughout the Midwest and Pacific Northwest, with the majority of documented cases in Montana, dating back to the 1970s.

According to the original newspaper clipping from the Billings Gazette on October 10, 1975 (shown above) about 175 reports of mutilations were gathered from Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho in addition to Montana at that time. At that time, given the cost of the equipment necessary to cause the types of mutilations and damages found, the issue stumped authorities, leading to the concern of a cult traveling throughout the country traveling “by helicopter”. Reasonably so, this was thought to be ridiculous.

There is a Wikipedia page on Cattle Mutilation as a general concept, but it is important to note that this page includes international and domestic horse, goat, and other unidentified livestock incidents. These non-bovine and international incidents have mutilation patterns not matching those specifically found in the mutilated cattle of the Midwest and Pacific Northwest. That said, they may still be worth discussing for contrasting purposes.

The Investigation

From the GIPHY keyboard

The common pattern with these mutilations is that the sex organs and tongues are removed with all blood drained from the corpse. An investigative report mentioned in a 2001 article in the New York Times mentioned that a group that researches these incidents, The National Institute for Discovery Science, did find one interesting variation in a case in Utah where there was a hole in the head of one of the cattle with both BHT and Formaldehyde present, indicating that an embalming/preservation process took place. This group is/was funded by Robert Bigelow – a man that became obsessed with aliens and the Skinwalker Ranch – a place so notorious even the History Channel has added it to their questionable line up.

As their website is now defunct and it is hard to find information on anything other than his alien focused ventures, I am not going to spend much time focusing on this aspect for now.

I used the Wayback Machine to look up their website and I have to admit it’s hard to take this seriously. Source: https://web.archive.org/web/20071009234743/http://www.nidsci.org/

Another common element between all of these cases? They remain unsolved. To give readers an idea of how extensive and compelling these reports are, there is an open case file with the Federal Bureau of Investigation regarding the recurring ritualistic serial mutilation of cattle. At this time, the FBI only investigates mutilations that occur on tribal land and all have been closed unsolved according to the Billings Gazette.

Private and public reward monies for information regarding cattle mutilations continue to accumulate, including a $25,000 reward for the recent mutilation in Oregon.

My Interest And Thoughts On These Events

From the GIPHY keyboard

Shortly before moving to Montana, on March 1, 2013, a rancher found more mutilated cows approximately 5 miles outside of Browning. Given how current it was in the news, this provided the opportunity for me to learn more about these incidents and start compiling information on this truly bizarre fascination.

Spoiler Alert: I don’t think this has anything to do with aliens. While I do not dismiss the possibility of life in this universe more intelligent than humans, I don’t think it is coming to Earth and messing with our cows.

I have 7 years of research and thoughts on these events and there are a few options regarding what I can do with this information. The option currently in the lead:

  • Start An Investigative Podcast/YouTube Series With A Funny Name

I would present each individual documented event in chronological order, the information available that I’ve been able to gather, any additional leads people are able to provide, and similarities between the events that I’ve been able to observe. This would then include leads from listeners that have been followed up on in later episodes.

The reasoning behind presenting the same information in two formats is because I want to be inclusive of non-auditory individuals, and those needing closed captioning and/or lip reading to assist with auditory processing. For more information on auditory processing disorders you can visit that website or read the Wikipedia page here.

Possible Explanations

From the GIPHY keyboard – credit to Trey Parker and Matt Stone

The big rule here driving my investigation: It’s Not Aliens. The perpetrators could be many things, but the response of “aliens” has become the standard cop-out. There is a lot of additional evidence, even from those that do believe aliens visit earth, to suggest these mutilations are not being performed by aliens.

I mentioned before that I have thoughts on alternative explanations. I don’t think these cases are going to be a “one explanation fits all” kind of thing. These potential explanations include: insurance fraud, publicity, public diversion from other questionable activities, ritualistic or cult activity, and intimidation. That said, I absolutely expect that there are potential explanations that I have not yet thought of. Who knows – maybe I will be proven wrong and there are aliens. I have to be open to that possibility, no matter how skeptical I am and how little I think it makes sense.

TL;DR

If you are interested in this kind of investigative podcast about the unsolved mysterious cow mutilations that have been ongoing throughout the United States for at least the past 50 years, please like this post and/or comment your suggestion for title of the series, what excites you the most, or if you have any thoughts you would like to contribute. If you think a friend would like to listen to this podcast or would have anything to contribute, please share this.

I’m excited to have as much input as possible in this 100% bizarre side project, even if you disagree with me and want to tell me you think I’m wrong; even if you insist that it’s aliens.

If this gains enough interest (100 likes) I will launch the first episode of the podcast.

Until then, I will continue to focus my efforts on reviews, my book becoming available for pre-order later this summer, “A Hundred Different Skies”, and my short story collection coming out early next year.

As always, thank you for reading. Without you, this post would have been meaningless electrons sent out into the void.

Things That Influence My Writing: Missing And Unidentified

Why Am I Drawn To The Stories Of Missing People?

I have a tendency to wander off – in grocery stores, in parking lots, in Costco. I get this trait from my father. At one point this led to an interesting scenario where I was 17 and in the back of a police car, but that’s a story for after I’m dead.

This is why I wear a GPS enabled watch with Find My Friends and cell service. It’s because my husband loves me and genuinely cares for my safety and is the only person on this planet that has access to that information in case he can’t find me one of these times I’ve wandered off somewhere. Flowers and books can be distracting when you’re in the woods.

There are a lot of people like me in this world. And there are a lot of people mixed up in bad 💩 one way or another. I look at these cases and I see missing people that could have been me, but I’ve always found my way back. I’ve never been lost – for some reason I have a confident sense of direction even when in wilderness areas. I can’t explain that part, but I bet many of these people felt the same way – they tripped and fell without a way for someone to find them.

I think about their families and that’s where I get stuck. I struggle with understanding extremes of emotions – I tend to shut down instead. I think about how many of those families also shut down and the generations down the line that shutting down impacts. It’s like a death with no closure – it’s so much worse because it’s unknown.

Montana has a huge number of missing persons and cold cases. A lot of these cases are children and there is some suspicion that some of these kids end up in Canada, human trafficking, (sometimes both of those), and worse.

Unidentified Remains

For more information: https://canadasmissing.ca/index-eng.htm

The world is full of unidentified bodies and missing persons. Some of the reconstruction methods for unidentified bodies are better than others – the (Combination) Manchester Method used in the video above is one of the better methods and is a more recent improvement. And all of these bodies are missing their stories.

With these newer methods we are finally putting faces to the skeletons of unidentified remains. These faces have helped family members identify lost loved ones years after their disappearance and finally put what happened to them to rest.

Last autumn I listened to The Disappearance of Des on my commute. It’s a podcast about Desmond Francis Carr – an Australian man who died in 1979. It was when I started listening to missing persons podcasts that I realized just how many unsolved disappearances. In fact, every few years a news network like NPR in 2013, or even Local News Stations in 2019 notes just how many cases go unsolved and that some states seem to have more than others – in that report Alaska, Arizona, and Oregon has the top 3 lead, with Georgia, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts having the fewest missing people per 100,000 residents.

According to NAMUS the United States has 4,400 unidentified bodies found every year and 600,000 people go missing. I think of the number of lives impacted by those 600,000 missing stories and then I realize that’s why all of those podcasts exist. That’s why people need to keep talking about these missing people.

Recent Cases In Montana

As of Friday, 56 children are missing in the state of Montana. The demographics break down as follows:

Here’s a nifty chart I made for everyone to show the comparison.

Without equal representation in both sex categories, I can’t run a full analysis, so I had to throw one of the categories out. If we focus on just the white and native children and look to see if there’s any statistically significant difference between the numbers of children missing in these groups, there isn’t (this is assuming boys and girls all have equal representation within the population).

There are going to be those that argue with me about the inaccuracies of this analysis because of the identities of these children. If the identity is impacting the way the child is now presenting to the world that’s important information that people should come forward about, but that is not information available on the sheet provided by Montana DOJ. I am working only with that information.

I ran it with a generous 95% confidence interval:

The chi-square statistic is 0.1922. The p-value is .661126. Not significant at p < .05


The chi-square statistic with Yates correction is 0.0195. The p-value is .889073. Not significant at p < .05.

There is one thing that is significant though – these populations are supposed to be statistically different. Only 6% of Montana’s population is Native American, so why are 37.5% of missing children from that demographic? If children were being selected randomly from the population, then the distribution should be proportionate to our population, not insignificantly different between the two groups.

That would mean that if missing children were proportionate we would expect only 3.36/56 missing children to be Native American versus the reality of 21/56 missing children (following the percentages mentioned above). Comparing these proportions with a one-tailed Z-test and a generous significance level of 0.05:

The value of z is -4.0403. The value of p is < .00001. The result is significant at p < .05.

NAMUS has a special program in place because of this issue. You can check out the United States Department of Justice’s data sheet here. Montana is one of the states that has not yet passed legislation mandating case entry into this database. I understand that a lot of decisions will need to be worked out.

Anyways, that’s a lot of rambling. This is a heavy subject to write about. If you have any interest in this topic consider volunteering your time to write about a missing person cold case for some form of media. There are a lot out there – more than have been written about.

Thank you for reading. Without you these little bits of data aren’t anything – communication requires a recipient and for you I am grateful.