Saturday, June 23, 2012

Toasted Coconut Cookies

I won't claim these are very healthy and they aren't gluten free, either.  But they are very yummy.

Toasted Coconut Cookies

When I was in my twenties and struggling to follow a macrobiotic diet that promised me extreme health and zen composure, someone brought an enormous box of donuts into a work meeting.  I don’t like donuts.  But there was one toasted coconut in that box and I kept looking at it.  Everyone else picked the powdered sugar or custard or jelly filled (all good ways to ruin a nice suit).  That one toasted coconut donut looked back at me, like a sad dog at a shelter.  At the end of the meeting, I adopted that donut, took it to my desk and when no one was looking, ate all the coconut off the outside and threw the donut middle away.

These cookies were made in remembrance of that donut, twenty-some years later.  It’s funny what we remember.


  • 4 1/2 cups shredded coconut  (I buy bulk unsweetened and sweetened and mix them together.  If you have a sweet tooth, use all sweetened)
  • 1/3 c. dark brown sugar, 2/3 cup white sugar (or 1 cup sugar minus two tablespoons, which you can replace with dark molasses)
  • Zest of 2 limes or one orange
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of baking powder
  • 1 stick cold butter, sliced into pats
  • 1 large egg
  • Flavorings – use either 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tsp coconut extract with lime zest - or 2 tsp. vanilla (or “vanilla, butter and nut”) flavoring with orange zest
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour


  1. Turn oven on to broil.
  2. Put coconut in a pan and toast it under broiler, watching carefully because sweetened coconut burns very easily.  Only toast the top of it to a light brown.  If you find you really like the toasted flavor, you can stir it up and put it back under the broiler. 
  3. Put 2 ½ c. of the coconut and all the sugar in a food processor or high end blender (like a Vitamix) and grind it into a fine meal. 
  4. Mix the salt and baking powder into the flour.  Place it and all the rest of the ingredients into the processor and process it until it is just barely mixed.  It should look crumbly like pie crust dough.
  5. Cover and refrigerate an hour, until firm.  This helps the texture of the cookies later.
  6. Turn oven to 350 degrees. 
  7. Shape balls from the cookie dough, then flatten and push into the remaining toasted coconut. 
  8. Place on baking sheets (I like using pizza stones). Bake until just beginning to brown, close to 25 minutes, but peek at the first batch at 20 minutes just in case your oven runs hot.  (Again, sweetened coconut likes to burn.)  Cool at least 15 minutes before transferring to a wire rack or they will fall apart. 
  9. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Proof that Oregon has been working on NAIS for atleast 6 years

This is from the desk of the State Vet, Don Hansen, who told me last year in an email that he did not foresee any NAIS in Oregon’s near future. His contact information, should you wish to voice your displeasure: Don Hansen, Oregon Department of Agriculture, 635 Capitol Street NE, Salem, OR, 97370
Office Phone: 503-986-4680; Cell Phone: 503-510-0333; Fax: 503-986-4734; Email address (Plan Administrator):

In the interest of making a shorter document for copying and distribution, I have shortened the original without editing or altering the verbiage. I apologize for the loss of easily read tables on this blog.  My comments are in red.
Cut and Pasted from page 5: The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has the responsibility to control diseases within the state and to eradicate and prevent the spread of infectious, contagious and communicable diseases to the livestock or people of Oregon. To this task, the ODA must rely on it ability to locate infected animals and animals at risk as quickly as possible. Having credible epidemiological information is key to a successful campaign against a disease outbreak. Epidemiological information includes: owner/manager name and phone number; animal’s physical address; livestock species at location; animal identification when available (e.g., brucellosis tag number, back tag number, brand description, scrapie tag number, etc) number of animals present, animals recently arrived and animals recently departed/died. We believe we have a functional traceability system. However, it must be improved if we are expected to protect our livestock populations against disease threats in this age of rapid and expansive animal movement. Our system contains both electronic and paper form data and as such, is not as efficient as it could be. As a functional traceability system, it includes databases that contain certain epidemiological information on imported animals and change of animal ownership transactions (in the field and at auction markets). We know physical addresses for thousands of livestock operations in our state and have personnel contact and animal species information for each.

Cut and Pasted from page 7: Update all electronic information systems and web services to reflect USDA’s current approach for advancing animal disease traceability.

 Upon the announcement of USDA’s current approach, ODA changed our web site to reflect the new direction of USDA. The web url is:

Develop, further refine, and implement an outreach plan for producers, accredited veterinarians, and livestock markets that describes the applicant’s plan for advancing animal disease traceability

 ODA plans to work closely with Accredited Veterinarians in an effort to keep them apprised of current USDA expectations/requirements.

 This will include providing them the latest information about the use of electronic CVIs provided by USDA.

 ODA will explore possibility for using USDA software for official tag distribution in our state.

ODA staff will be available to assist the Accredited Veterinarians in an effort to keep them apprised of current USDA expectations/requirements.

 This will include providing them the latest information about the use of electronic CVIs provided by USDA.

 ODA will explore possibility for using USDA software for official tag distribution in our state.

 ODA staff will be available to assist the Accredited Veterinarian in the issuance of a PIN when required by AVIC. The Veterinarian will be able to contact staff and provide them with 911 addresses or with GPS information and staff will obtain and relay the PIN to the Accredited Veterinarian.

 Currently, auction yards are working closely with the brand inspection program in the process for collecting data.
Advancing Animal Disease Traceability Work Plan

From Pages 3 and 4, which show how Oregon spent USDA grants:
Funding Year Cooperative Agreement Number Amount Awarded Expenditures De-obligation Accomplishments

FY2004 California/Oregon Interagency Contract Number 04-0714Funded:   $124,710 Spent:  $116,909.79 $0 -Registered more than 1,600 premises
-Tagged 2,555 calves
-Tagged more than 9,000 cows
-Partially tracked 450 cull cows
-Held meetings throughout the state to promote NAIS

FY2005 05-9741-1497 Funded: $248,000 Spent:  $169,321.66 Deobligation: $78,678 -Actively promoted premises registration and animal id
-Provided producers cost-share program
-10,000 NAIS compliant RFID tags
-20 RFID readers

FY2007 07-9741-1497-ca  Funded: $75,815 Spent: $75,815 $0 -Actively promoted premises registration and animal id
-Provided producers cost-share program
- We combined state resources with cooperative agreement funds to initiate revitalized effort that integrated our brand inspection personnel into this animal health/NAIS activity
-Found interoperability mechanisms at local auction markets that could enhance our ability to capture premises identification and subsequent animal movement information within the targeted goal of 48 hours
-Used hand held devises to capture data then transmitted to our centralized database within 48 hours

FY2008 08-9741-1497-CA Funded:  $192,194 Spent: $192,194 $0 -Continued to actively promote an educational effort to advance the premises registration and animal identification aspects of the NAIS
-Included premises registration information and application forms in our annual brand renewal notices
-We continued our efforts, using state resources with cooperative agreement funds, to integrate our brand inspection personnel into this animal health/NAIS activity
-We used hand held devises to capture data then transmitted to our centralized database within 48 hours

FY2009 09-9741-1933-CA Funded: $158,866 Still in process $40,000 +/-
-Local AVIC office already had items that we had planned to acquire with these funds. We had intended to purchase a complete system for our last auction yard, which was disallowed -We continued our efforts, using state resources with cooperative agreement funds, to integrate our brand inspection personnel into this animal health/NAIS activity
-We used hand held devises to capture data then transmitted to our centralized database within 48 hours
This effort captured more premises location data and animal movement data as well
-We estimate that we have added 3 to 4 thousand addresses to our database.

Makes you wonder how Mr. Hansen could not foresee NAIS in Oregon’s future if he was simultaneously actively promoting NAIS!

The document states that the ODA will contact “all livestock groups” to assist them. It says they will “travel to all parts of the state to provide informational meetings, education and training.” The document makes it clear that the ODA is still working on planning equipment and staff needed. However, they have requested more funds from the USDA. From page 12:
Fund Request, Intended Use of Funds
Personnel and Benefits $ 86,000 Personnel to assist with the following activities of the agreement. Work directly with field personnel to provide support and insure quality of data being received into databases in Salem office. Provide informational meetings, education and training. Work with Advisory Committee, auction yard owners and Accredited Veterinarian in relation to the new framework. Enter data into ODA databases.
Travel $ 7,000 Travel when attending auction yards, cattlemen’s meetings and other livestock related functions in order to educate personnel, auction yard owners, producers and veterinarians about the new framework as outlined by USDA. Funds may also be used to send ODA representatives to out-of-state informational meetings
Equipment $ 5,000 Funds used to purchase computers, wireless communication devices, GPS units, portable printers and other devises. Equipment used for data input and verification by regulatory animal health officials and full-time Animal Identification employees.
Supplies $ 2,723 Funds to incidental supplies to maintain electronic equipment used in the field.
Subtotal Request $ 100,723
Basis for indirect charges and matching 17.14%
Indirect Charge $ 17,277
Total Request $118,000
State Matching Funds $ 23,600 20% State matching funds for this project.

I am curious about the $23,600 from state funds. I know for government spending, that’s not a lot, but Oregon is one of the states on the verge of bankruptcy. Does that mean we will have additional taxes and fees to pay? And if so, why aren’t we spending additional taxes on education?

From page 13, a stated goal: Measure the increase in new information gained from data entries completed from May 1, 2010 to March 31, 2011. (List specific kinds of information collected and the number of each entry)

So now we have proof that Oregon is indeed working on a NAIS plan, and has been since at least 2004, even if they have been calling it by a different name. Please share this. Thank you! - Larisa Sparrowhawk and Sharlyn Homola, Oregon Consumers and Farmers Association,

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Five Spice Peanuts and Cardamom Pecans

When I was a child, my mother made Five Spice Peanuts for me a couple of times. I adored them, perhaps a little too much. (Did I ever mention I was a chubby child?) Mom and I have both been downsizing from big houses; the work included going through acres of cookbooks to decide which to keep and which to pass along to other relatives or Goodwill. I found the recipe for Five Spice Peanuts and was shocked by the instructions to soak raw peanuts in boiling water with a cup each of salt and sugar for ten minutes! Peanuts are legumes and need soaking to become digestible; but a much smaller amount of sugar and salt can be used if soaking time is increased. The next recipe includes raw pecans, which are soaked in cool water and dried gently to deactivate enzyme inhibitors and enzymes are preserved to aid in digestion. After trying these recipes, you may wish to try other spices, such as garlic, cayenne and ginger.

Five Spice Peanuts: Boil 3 c. water with 2 tbsp. salt, 2 tbsp. sugar. Stir until dissolved. Add 3 c. raw peanuts, turn down heat, simmer 20 minutes, stir a few times while allowing to cool in the liquid. Drain thoroughly, then mix in 2 tbsp. agave, a dash of salt, 1 tbsp. peanut or sesame oil and 1 tsp. five spice powder. Spread on baking sheet and bake at 250 degrees, stirring after each 20 minutes until the nuts are completely dry in about an hour. Let them cool completely to restore their crunch before eating.

Cardamom Pecans: Soak 2 c. raw pecans (you can lower the cost by making them half sunflower seeds if you like) in water about 8 hours. Drain thoroughly. Mix with 2 tbsp. agave, a pinch of salt, ½ tsp. cinnamon and ½ tsp. cardamom. Spread on cookie sheet and dry at 100 degrees for several hours, stirring once or twice.

I use raw lucuma powder, which is not available in stores around here, to help the seasonings stick to the nuts.  I have not yet tried raw carob, but imagine it would be a lovely substitute. 

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Saturday, June 12, 2010

Fried Rice and Fried Noodles

This will be in Becky Holm's Douglas County News:


Fried Rice and Fried Noodles by Larisa Sparrowhawk

Both fried rice and fried noodles make great use of leftovers and are economical, kid pleasing belly fillers. They can even be healthy if you use brown rice and whole grain pasta and watch the quantity of oil.

Fried Rice - Use left over, drier rice. Pour 1 tbsp. peanut oil per 2 c. cooked rice into a large, hot skillet or wok and add chopped onion. Cook until onion is beginning to get translucent before adding other chopped vegetables or leftover meat. Good options are carrots, celery, jicama (to replace water chestnuts and bamboo shoots), bell pepper, bok choy, ham, chicken, beef and tiny salad shrimp. Scramble an egg in another skillet, chop small and add to rice mixture. Add a splash or two of sake or white wine, soy sauce and garlic or ginger to taste. If you would like to add snow peas or sprouts, add them now, just before serving.

Fried Noodles - Udon, big, slippery noodles that really soak up flavors are most popular with children. However, brown rice or buckwheat soba noodles are more healthy. Rice or bean threads (also called cellophane noodles) are a low calorie option. Cook the pasta al dente, then rinse under cold water, running your fingers through to remove starch. Drain thoroughly. Fry in large, hot skillet or wok: 1 c. of chopped meat in 2 tbsp. sesame or peanut oil, 1 tbsp. sake or white wine and 1 c. chopped onions, carrots or other firmer vegetables. Stir fry a little longer and add 2 chopped green scallions, snap peas, frozen peas, spinach or other softer green vegetable. Fry about 2 minutes longer, stirring continuously and remove to a bowl. Add 2 tbsp. sesame or peanut oil and pasta to wok, stir fry a couple minutes, adding 2 tbsp. sake or white wine, 1 tbsp. soy sauce half way through. Add vegetables. Season with 5 spice powder, garlic or ginger to taste. Sprinkle each serving with sesame seeds.

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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Diane Wilson Exposes Spill Baby, Spill BP

This lady has been my heroine since the 90's.

Simple Sushi (Korean style - no raw fish)

This will be in Becky Holm's Douglas County News:


Bento Box Lunches - Simple Rolled Sushi by Larisa Sparrowhawk
Sushi is made with short grain sweet brown or white rice, made with more water than usual so it will be sticky like the rice ball recipe last week. Add a dash of salt and a small piece of konbu seaweed if you can find any. After cooking, add 1 tablespoon brown rice and 1 tablespoon rice, coconut or white vinegar per cup of raw rice. (Do not leave it in an aluminum pot after this or the aluminum will leach into the food.) Let the rice cool.

Lay one sheet of toasted nori seaweed on a bamboo sushi mat or wax paper. Wet your hands. Spread a layer of rice about 1/4" thick on the 2/3 of the nori sheet closest to you, leaving about 1/2" margin around the sides. Smear umemboshi plum paste, wasabi paste, American brown mustard or white horseradish sauce thinly across the rice. Lay thin pieces of desired fillings (see suggestions below) across, going past the rice to the side edges of the nori. Smear a little water on the uncovered edge of nori farthest from you. Start rolling the nori up and away from you, pressing tightly with your fingers until you reach the wetted edge. Firm the roll with your bamboo mat or wax paper. (A bamboo mat will make a nicer looking roll.) Lay the roll aside a moment for the nori to soften before cutting into five smaller cylinders with a very sharp, wetted knife.

Suggested fillings:
a) a smear of American brown mustard, ham, egg pancake (see the rice ball recipe), spinach
b) white horseradish sauce, shredded leftover roast beef or pork, julienned red bell pepper, scallions
c) umemboshi plum paste, julienned carrot, cucumber and snow peas
d) wasabi paste, julienned carrot, cucumber, avocado strips and a sprinkling of sesame seeds
e) light miso paste, pea, buckwheat or sunflower sprouts,shredded leftover dark meat chicken, julienned radish
f) umemboshi plum paste, shredded beef marinated in mirin, soy sauce and sake, a sprinkling of sesame seeds, scallions
g) white horseradish sauce, smoked trout (Sunrise Asian Grocery in Eugene has good prices), julienned cucumber, scallions,
h) any julienned veggies you have - experiment and have fun!

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Friday, May 28, 2010

Oregon's Vehicle Fee and Gas Tax Hikes

This isn't about food, although it could potentially have an affect on food prices in stores.  It's about politics, my second biggest interest.

I am both a paid and volunteer petitioner for a campaign to bring Oregon's vehicle fees and taxes to ballot.  I sent the following op ed piece to Eugene's Register Guard and will send versions with less Eugene/bike path commentary to another eight or so papers tonight. 

You may have noticed petitioners at gas stations in Portland, Eugene and Roseburg and wondered if they were protesting the federal gas tax increase to pay for the BP oil catastrophe.
Despite the coincidence of timing, the petitioners are addressing vehicle fee and fuel tax hikes in Oregon. In May, 2009, the Oregon Legislature quietly passed HB 2001, the largest increase in vehicle registration fees, over the road fees and fuel tax in state history. The Bill is called The Oregon Jobs and Transportation Act, a warm and fuzzy title for a bill that will cost us all money now, but will provide temporary construction jobs beginning 2013 and 2014 after two or three years of traffic and alternative use studies.

Registration fees for non-government vehicles increased by 59-104%. Over the road fees for commercial truckers increased 24.4-24.6%. The state gas and diesel taxes will also increase by 25% by January 1, 2011. HB 2001 also allows Multnomah, Clackamas, Washington, Lane and Marion Counties to raise registration fees beginning in 2013.

Truckers and industries dependent upon them are especially burdened by these fee and tax increases during a recession. Already struggling businesses are likely to close. Retail goods and groceries are likely to become more expensive.

A loophole in the Oregon Constitution currently allows the Legislature to raise these fees and taxes without a public vote. Campaign to End Highway Robbery, a nonprofit advocacy group based in Silverton, filed an initiative petition (IP66) to require legislators to put all proposed vehicle fee and fuel tax increases in excess of 3% to a public vote, retroactive one year to include HB 2001.

When legislators have to explain plans to spend tax and fee increases, they generally spend less and distribute revenue more fairly. A thorough reading of HB 2001 shows the representatives and senators who sponsored the bill strongly favored their own districts. Although the entire state will have to pay increased fees and taxes, the Portland metro area gets an enormous chunk of the revenue. Budgeted plans for Portland total $548 million out of $943 million. Portland's population is approximately half of the entire state’s, so on the surface, that would seem almost reasonable. However, the bill's other projects planned for Portland do not yet have estimates, including a bridge over the Willamette, traffic and emissions reduction studies and bike paths. Representatives Edwards and Hunt and Senator Starr, all sponsors of the bill, happen to live in the Portland metro area. Two other sponsors, Representative Berger and Senator Courtney, are just outside Portland in Salem.  Another sponsor, Senator Metsger, serves Clackamas County east towards Hood River; his district will also benefit. 

Moreover, the remaining money is not shared equitably. Although all coastal residents who use motor vehicles will have to pay increased vehicle fees and taxes, the only planned improvement to Highway 101 is at the junction of Highway 6, which goes to Portland. Highway 101 is a major tourist attraction as well as an often used route from Washington to California; it is riddled with potholes and needs guard rails in many places to prevent errant vehicles from plummeting down cliffs to the ocean. However, the only repair, aforementioned, is in the district of Senator Johnson, a sponsor of the bill.

The following counties will receive no benefit from the tax and fee hikes: Clatsop, Columbia, Lincoln, Polk, Benton, Curry, Wasco, Gilliam, Wheeler and Josephine Counties.

One of the sponsors of HB 2001, Representative Bentz, serves the very desolate Baker, Malheur, Harney and Grant Counties, with a combined population of only 49,000 people. Bentz secured 15.5 million in road (as opposed to highway) repairs; another 15.5 million in additional repairs is under consideration. On Chandler Lane alone, Baker County will receive 4.5 million dollars worth of repairs. Compare that with areas in which no one sponsored the bill, like Douglas County (population 104,000), which gets the shoulder on I-5 widened near Sutherlin for a truck climbing lane, at a cost of 4.1 million and will share some sort of improvement (10 million) on curvy portions of Highway 42 with Coos County.  Not surprisingly, Douglas County Representatives Hanna and Freeman and Senator Kruse all voted against this bill. 

The Eugene/Springfield metropolitan area, with 350,000 residents, seven times more than in Representative Bentz's entire district, will receive only improvements to Beltline Highway at the junctions of I-5 and Delta Highway. The State wants the Eugene/Springfield metro area to conduct alternative land use studies and present findings to the Legislative Assembly by July 1, 2013. The goal is to "accommodate planned population and employment growth while achieving a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions from motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 pounds or less". Before you start envisioning a glorious future for Eugene with a subway, The Departments of Transportation and Land Conservation and Development intend to provide "technical assistance, grant support and guidance" but Eugene is to raise funds to pay the bulk of the expenses. Graciously, the State says that the Eugene/Springfield metro area is not required to complete these planned projects if adequate funds are not raised. The likely result is another bike path situated where no one will use it for commuting.

After disparaging bike path plans twice, I should probably state my own political views. I consider myself a libertarian environmentalist. I visited Congress the first time when I was only eight years old, lobbying to save the 804 trail in Yachats from casino development. Since then I have written thousands of letters and hundreds of articles in defense of sustainable communities and farms. I believe locals are better stewards of the environment than multinational corporations or governments will ever be. I am in favor of road improvements and bike paths, but I believe the public should be consulted regularly in the planning and budgeting. Town hall meetings are an excellent way to learn where the worst intersections are, where bike paths are needed for commuting (rather than recreation) and how much we are willing to pay for projects. I suspect that the lawmakers who place bike paths in lovely park settings are either thinking of photo opportunities or have never actually ridden a bike to work. Especially in urban environments where cars parallel park, biking is very dangerous. A person in a parked car could open their door at any second, sending a bike flying into the path of a moving vehicle. Drivers are nervous trying to pass bikers on crowded streets.

Commuters want bike paths located in congested areas to increase safety for both bicyclists and drivers, to encourage green transportation and to reduce competition for parking. At least one major north/south road and one east/west road downtown and by University of Oregon should have bike paths. Roads with wide sidewalks decorated with large ornamental planters are an excellent first choice; planters can always be relocated. A second choice would be to replace some parallel parking spaces with bike lanes and racks. Construction can move one block at a time to disrupt traffic as little as possible. The increased visibility of store windows and signs and the ability to attract perhaps ten cyclists to park in front of a store or restaurant where previously only one car could park should more than make up for the inconvenience of construction to existing businesses.

While collecting signatures on the petition to bring fuel tax and registration fee increases to the ballot, I have repeatedly heard Lane County residents express anger over frivolous projects that waste vast sums of money. Pretty, rather than useful, bike paths are frequently mentioned, as is the plan to rename Beltline Highway exits. Voters are willing to accept the current state fuel tax of 24 cents per gallon, which is 4 cents higher than average, because Oregon does not have a sales tax. However, nearly everyone feels that raising taxes and fees during a recession is a bad political move.

Lawmakers, we live here, too. We pay your salary as well as the funds you use for your projects. We demand the right to participate in planning how our tax and fee dollars are spent. We will prove it by collecting more than enough signatures to bring HB 2001 to ballot.

Larisa Sparrowhawk