Save Grandma’s Encyclopedia… I’ll Tell You Why

You should save Grandma’s encyclopedia and I’ll tell you why. It holds the history of the world and it’s more candidly told than it would be today. I’m reading an encyclopedia that was published in the early 1950’s and has an earlier publishing date of 1945. Meaning that the research was done during the early twentieth-century. Don’t let the outdated publishing deter you. I’m impressed by the accuracy of the scientific articles, much of what they wrote is just now hitting the mainstream.

When the writers, (probably the best in the world) wrote about cultures, they were not as concerned about offending people or being sued. Authors today must be socially and politically correct. Of course, in 1945, authors had ethics but the rules were different. I’ve not run across any encyclopedia writer who intentioned malice. The authors went around the world, wrote about the people and took pictures, or had a photographer. Their intent was to share the world to those back home.

I assume that Google is scanning old encyclopedias. I hope so. I also hope that people will take a second look at their value. If you do get rid of it, I hope it finds its way into the hands of people like me, who didn’t pay enough attention in school or wasn’t in Castile, Spain in 1940. But after reading the articles, I feel like I’ve been there. Even more so, after seeing the colorful pictures. And because the authors weren’t hindered by political correctness, I know exactly what the people looked like.

Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:

Getting Enough Sleep, Taking Walks… Just Do It!

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERThere is tremendous scientific evidence that taking a walk in nature has a positive effect on our brain. It helps it rejuvenate. I have lived in nature for forty years and I’m glad to hear it. I’m also pleased that the medical field is teaching us how important it is to sleep. I hate to say, I told you so, but I knew back in the 80’s and 90’s that people were working too hard and pushing themselves too far. I remember seeing a new campaign at one of the big grocery chain stores. One day, all the checkers had big red buttons affixed to their shirts that read, Just Do It. One of the checkers wearing the button had been in my speech class in college and I knew her well enough to know that she did not appreciate having to wear that slogan. What does that even mean? Just do it? Even if it kills you, do it anyway? Even if it will harm someone else, do it anyway? Needless to say, the buttons didn’t last long.

With so much at stake, we must eat as best we can, get the sleep that we need and take those walks into nature. While you’re out there, lost in the tree canopy, keep an eye out for the first signs of spring on the oak. This summer the acorns will start to form. Those acorns are a reminder that the earth continues to provide for the creatures that live at its roots. And even if the wind someday blows it over, animals will make homes in the holes and caves of the roots. Life regenerates. And as the scientific evidence shows, so do our minds when we walk in nature.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Watch the how-to video, Acorns and Eat’em


OMG… Did the Bread Taste Like Cow Manure?

Canva EVALINE's FIDDLE Kindle Cover March 2016Believe it or not, Mid-Western Pioneers made cute little houses out of chunks of grass. They were so proud of their new homes, they put flowers in the window sill, happy to have a house. Even if it was made out of dirt.

Once the pioneers had a home, they built kitchens and the women went to work cooking and baking. There were no trees on the prairie, (if they’d had trees, they’d have built their homes out of wood, obviously) so they had to burn cow manure to keep warm and to cook with. Cow manure lies in the field saucer-shaped, and when it dries, it burns well (not speaking from experience, just what I read). They called them “cow pies” and the name still sticks today.

Years ago, before our rural home had electricity, I had a large wood-burning, cast iron cook stove. It had burners on the top and an oven below. It was cute as can be but I tired of going back and forth outside for kindling to keep the fire going and the black that got all over the pots and pans made it to my face and clothes. Pretty is as pretty does.

Imagine though, going back and forth outside to retrieve cow manure to cook and bake. Pretty gross. But people did what they had to do to make a new life for themselves and hey, who doesn’t have to take a little s*#t now and then to get ahead? The story coming out of the era is a bit more telling. At first, the women kept washing their hands after they handled the cow pies, but eventually, they quit being queasy about it and quit washing their hands. They’d pick up the cow pie, throw it into the fire and without washing their hands, go back to kneading their dough. Thank goodness the fire was hot and killed the funky microbes and parasite eggs that were surely embedded in the cow pies. Oh… the good old days.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the Early American love story, Evaline’s Fiddle. Available here:



Food & Cooking… Which Acorns Taste the Best?

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERProbably one of the most frequent questions I get asked about eating acorns is, “Which acorns taste the best?” Now mind you, almost all acorns (without leaching) are bitter-tasting unpalatable little things. I recommend against putting them in your mouth. But leached acorns, that’s a different story. What I mean by leaching is; grinding and rinsing in water. But the deal with acorns is, you have to rinse them in water for a long time. The best way to do that is to grind them in the blender (with water) and then keep them in the refrigerator in the water for however long it takes to get the bitter tannic acid out. I have not tried acorns from all over the world. However, I have tried them from all over California and there are some bitter and not so bitter acorns. The leaching time ranges from one to four weeks. Because they are acidic and you are rinsing them, they won’t go bad in the refrigerator during the leaching process. The best tasting acorns I’ve ever had are the Tanoak acorns that grow along California’s coastal ranges and a little bit inland. I found a week was plenty of time to remove the tannic acid.

Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

Dutch This… Dutch That… What Does It All Mean?

Butterfly BLUE VIOLET Front CoverI was looking in the dictionary and I ran across listings for Dutch this… Dutch that… It stopped me in my tracks. It’ll stop you too… right? Here are the entries:

Dutch means Hollandish. It is also slang for German or Germanic. “Of or pertaining to the Netherlands or its inhabitants.” “Characteristic of the Dutch or their language.” Have you ever seen a black cow with a broad band of white around the middle of its body? That’s a Dutch Belted cow. Ever eaten Dutch cheese? It’s a small, round, hard cheese made from skim milk. But after a semi-colon it says “also cottage cheese.” That’s odd, cottage cheese is not hard, it’s runny. Oh well… we move on to Dutch courage. It means, “it’s the alcohol talking.” In other words, courage due to intoxicants. Too much to drink? Then out the door! Dutch door. A door divided horizontally, so that the lower part can be shut while the upper remains open. My horse has one of those and I love it. He’s so cute the way he hangs his head out the door. Even sick trees get the Dutch moniker in the form of Dutch elm disease. It makes the leaves yellow due to a fungus and can kill the tree. How about Dutch foil? Ever heard of that? Or Dutch leaf or Dutch gold? It’s copper or a copper alloy beaten into thin sheets. The Hollanders use it to decorate toys and paper. Those Hollanders are also known as Dutchmen. Yes, a Dutchman is a native of the Netherlands but it is also used to describe a Dutch vessel, and in carpentry and machinery a Dutchman is an odd piece inserted to fill an opening, hide a defect, or strengthen a weak part. That probably comes about because of the dikes the Dutch made to strengthen their land. Even flowers have a Dutch name. The Dutchman’s breeches is a flowering herb, with white or cream-colored flowers. Another flower also shares the Dutch title; Dutchman’s pipe. A vine that blooms early in the summer, the flowers curve like the bowl of a pipe. And then there’s the world renowned Dutch oven, which refers to the tin screen for roasting before an open fire or a shallow iron kettle for baking with a rimmed cover to hold burning coals. A brick oven also bears the name. The brick walls of a Dutch oven are preheated with a fire. The food is cooked, not by the fire but by the hot walls. Dutch treat, we all know that. That is when each person pays for himself. And last but not least, the Dutch uncle. I had no idea he was so mean. It means one who admonishes or reprimands with great severity and directness, a severe mentor.  Suellen Ocean is the author of many books on diverse topics. Her books are available here:




What’s with the Polyester Dishtowels? Obviously, They’re Not Cooks

It’s not just discount stores that sell dishtowels with polyester weave. I was given a beautiful set from an upscale cooking store and they are terrible! You can’t dry your hands with them and it’s just as hard to dry dishes. What were they thinking? Obviously, they weren’t and they probably don’t spend time in the kitchen where we run water constantly. Those who love to cook are always washing and drying their hands and need an absorbent towel to wipe up spills. What? Do they think we stick microwave dishes in and only hang the pretty dishtowels for looks? Even someone whose idea of cooking means four minutes in the microwave, still has to wash his hands. And who doesn’t spill liquids on the counter? I guess the day has come when pretty dishtowels are just for looks, like decorative soap in the bathroom. (In my bathroom, I’ve got a bowl of soap shaped like acorns, given to me by the same person who sent me the polyester dishtowels, bless her heart.) What? Do they think today’s cooks only use paper towels? Don’t get me started. What is in those things? Certainly not paper. If you hold it up to the light, you can see and feel the plastic. Definitely not very biodegradable. Sigh.

It’s time to throw out the fake dishtowels. And while I’m at it, go into the bathroom and toss the fake bath towel. Although it does look rather pretty next to the decorative acorn soap. And really, who needs to dry their hands?

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:



… and Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973



Acorn Preparation… Make Sure All the Tannic Acid is Removed

CreatespaceAcornsAndEat'emFRONTCOVERStep two in acorn preparation is leaching and it is the most important factor. If the tannic acid is not removed, your acorn meal will be bitter and your tummy might ache and your gums might pucker and blister. Doesn’t sound very appetizing does it? Don’t let that stop you, many foods need preparation.

Thoroughly leached acorns are a delight. If I was loopy, I’d say that acorns are a portal into the earth and that they bring magic to your life. As I look onto the bright green oak shoots that signal the advent of spring, and watch the birds flit between them, I am reminded of the strength the oak brings to living things throughout the world.

Secret Genealogy IV Cover

Rinsing out the tannin returns the acid to the soil, nourishing future harvests of acorns the forest animals depend on. The cycle of life goes round and round. Gathering and preparing acorns has us step into that earthy world, even if only for a short time.  Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973

… and Secret Genealogy IV – Native Americans Hidden in Our Family Trees. Available here:


Last Summer, the Bees Took Over the Garden… I Let Them

It all started with the forget-me-not flowers that popped up in the middle of the garden. The bees loved it. Then I started noticing the weeds that bees liked and decided it best to leave them. And then any other weed that flowered that bees were drawn too, that stayed. By the end of the summer my garden was swarming with bees. I never once got stung. This summer, my plan is to be a little tougher and pull some of the bees’ favorite weeds. I’ve already started pulling. But because I have a soft spot for the bees (and understand their importance in pollination) I will be leaving the weeds that I remember attracted the most bees. I will also be careful to disturb the ground as little as possible because bees nest in the ground. I hope this summer I can reclaim a little of the territory that I let sprawl with flowering weeds but I can’t promise. I’ve grown to love the bees as much as the birds. There’s nothing like standing in the garden with the birds and the bees. Happy garden planning!

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here