WROTE IT! PUBLICATION DATE = SOON!

I showed up, wore a crown, slept less, thought more, got crazier, and wrote my memoir.

THE SUMMARY:

Belynda’s recipe for life, Beauty Queen Blues, is an intimate (at times raw) memoir told from her creative, curious, crazy point of view. 

From her mother she learned proper etiquette, explicit self-control, and how to sew. Her devil-may-care dad crossed more than a few boundaries. He taught her all about the seven deadly sins and how to create memorable cuisine—all while maximizing her flirting techniques. Her two older sisters and one brother were jealous of her being the do-no-wrong baby of the family, but they loved her too—as much as they knew how to love. The Chambers clan was always laughing mostly with each other but sometimes at each other. 

Crowned a queen in Memphis at 17, Belynda became a popular public personality, recognized for her figuremore than for her self. She showed up, wore her crown, and spoke up for St. Jude’s children, women’s rights, and the environment. Obsessed, determined, driven to find her comfortable spot in the world, she questioned her religion, race, gender, and discovered that her Southern roots didn’t quite fit. 

Beauty Queen Blues is a life-changing love story. Two marriages, three daughters, dozens of countries, infinite laughs, delectable food, numerous metaphysical events, broken bones, brains and hearts pack Belynda’s life with divine grace and love. To feed her love of cooking for others, she became a chef. Recipes—sensual ones that promise to please—are included.

As she peels away the years writing—remembering those she loved anyway even though they were really fucked up, she has several epiphanies. Love your life sooner is just one of them. Maybe, just maybe, being crazy is a good thing. 

BREATH

A life changing read!

“Grammy, you snore. Well, you don’t exactly snore you kind of puff out little bits of air. Like Puff the Magic Dragon,” my granddaughter smiled. “Hey, how about I try this new trick I just read about—mouth taping. It’s supposed to keep you breathing through your nose (not your mouth) like you’re supposed to,” I said.

Off to the drugstore we went to find the perfect tape that would stick well but not rip off my lip cells. I tore off a postage size piece and taped my mouth shut. “Oh Grammy, are you okay?” I grunted and nodded, “yes.” I admit it was a little confining at first but then it was okay. My grand agreed to tape her mouth too but somehow after rolling in the bed and giggling, her tape ended up on her belly button.

Next morning, no snores but also no bags under my eyes, no congestion in my sinuses. Hey, this tape thing is very good. Not only did I feel great in the mornings, but I didn’t wake up in the middle of the night like I had been for a couple of years. I slept a solid eight hours. I still am sleeping all night and waking up clearheaded, fresh breathed, bright-eyed.

It’s especially important for young children as they develop to breath through their nose in order to develop correctly. Breath, an interesting read, has a lot of other great advice. Change your life.

This tape works great.

Get to Know Herbs

Check Out What’s Cooking at Raleigh City Farm.

By Chef Belynda Chambers 

Upper left clockwise: Chives, oregano, rosemary, thyme perking up at Raleigh City Farm.

Herbs—culinary, medicinal, protective, cosmetic, aromatic—are potent plants. In this blog, we’ll focus on the basics for enjoying culinary herbs—planting, harvesting, preserving.

            We grow familiar perennials like oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, mint, chives, lemon balm, and sage. (A perennial is a plant that returns year after year.) Our happy hardy oregano at the farm started as a two-inch baby and is now an ever spreading blob that just begs to be divided to take over a new plot. Biennials (2-year plants) that grow at the farm include parsley and dill. A variety of annual basils, including purple, Thai, tulsi, Greek, are musts for any cook. 

            Herbs can be started from rooted plants, cuttings, or seeds. In Raleigh, it’s easy to find rooted plants here at the farm, at Logan’s, and at your local market. If you’re a beginner, rooted plants will give you the quickest results. 

            It’s easy to multiply mint and basil by cutting the stems just below the leaf/stem juncture, popping them in fresh water, and watching them root. Keep the water fresh and enjoy them as a bouquet until they’re ready to plant. The magic of sprouting seeds is, well, the magic of life. 

            Your herbs will live in a very bright window when it’s freezing but they all prefer outdoors. Some herbs love dry, well-drained soil while others (basil, mint) like moisture, but they ALL love sunny spots. Keep in mind their water preferences when you plant them. Basil, mint, dill, chives, and parsley make great plot companions, preferring a moisture retaining soil, while oregano, marjoram, rosemary, thyme, and sage prefer well-drained earth.

            Imagine—your oregano is creeping in the garden or drooping over the side of the pot and one day you see a tiny bud about to bloom—it’s time to harvest! Right before the plant blooms is when its flavor is at its peak. You can cut the blooms and keep the plant producing but it will lose its intenseness and some of its nutritional value. Annual basil likes to be pinched back at the leaf juncture and continues to produce all summer. 

            Harvest is easy. Herbs’ aromatic oils will be most intense in the early morning, just after the dew has dried before the midday sun. With sharp herb scissors or Chinese kitchen clips, cut the herb no more than a few inches from its base if it’s a ground cover or annual, leave enough foliage to keep the plant thriving through summer. It will regrow and bloom again. For dill,  chives, and cilantro, harvest a few sprigs, and then all summer and let them bloom and reseed. Rosemary will grow into a serious bush and you can trim sprigs all year.

            Hardy herbs like oregano, marjoram, thyme, rosemary, and sage dry well and keep their flavor. Simply snip the herbs, rinse them, spread them on a rack to dry then rubber band them together, and hang them in a dry dark place. Tent them with a brown paper bag if you’re concerned with dust. They’ll dry in about two weeks. Slip the leaves off of the stems and store in glass containers. Plastic is porous and will not keep them fresh.

            I like to freeze mint, chives, dill, lemon balm, and basil to retain their fresh flavor. Wash, spread out, and dry the herbs then destem them, chop or not. Freeze in freezer safe glass Ball jars. Mince basil with olive oil, scoop it up with a tablespoon, drop on parchment-lined trays, and freeze.  Pull up the tablespoon-sized blobs and place them in a freezer jar. Frozen herbs taste like they’re fresh from the garden. Chive blooms are delicious and beautiful, fresh and frozen.

            How long should you keep your dried and frozen herbs? Six months. They won’t hurt you but they won’t have the nutrition and flavor. 

            At the end of the growing season be sure to convince a few of your herbs to keep growing in that sunny window. Save seeds. Here in Raleigh, you’ll likely have oregano, marjoram, thyme, sage, rosemary, maybe chives, year round but their potent perfection is in late spring, right before they bloom.

            Gather your herbs and your family and friends and make your own blends. Tasty tinctures/teas made from savory herbs are immunity boosting powerhouses. Spice blends make a great quick flavor booster. Check out Oregano Immunity Booster and Herbes de Provence

            Come play and learn more at Raleigh City Farm’s events. Reserve here and join us on March 26 for our p1 Tourism Culinary Herb Workshop. 

            Check out what’s growing and cooking at Raleigh City Farm.

Dried herbs are always hanging around my kitchen.

ICE COLD HEALTHY

The Iceman details how breath + ice coldness = body/brain health.

Years ago I read that the French always finish up their shower with tingling cold water. Of course, because it was THE FRENCH, I started doing it. I did notice a few perks (perkier) body parts, but it was a fad, that I let go down the drain. NOW, I’m back with a vengeance.

Wim Hof’s story is worth reading. It’s interesting because he’s such a free spirit who follows the universe’s pull. His passion for breath and cold works has healed a lot of people. The effects are scientifically proven. wimhofmethod.com ENJOY the WINTER! Try this—

Sauerkraut – Delight your gut bugs!

12 cups of cabbage, 3 tablespoons salt, and time = delicious!

YUMMY sauerkraut is so easy to make. Besides just scooping it out and eating it, I add it to my salads, as a garnish for soups, and as an extra in my wraps. All you need is cabbage, sea salt, a crock or a glass jar, something to weight the cabbage under the brine and a cloth to cover it. I like about 1 part red cabbage to 3 parts green because it is just so brilliantly pink when it’s done. My KRAUT GURU’s book WILD FERMENTATION (Sandor Ellix Katz) is the best bedtime read. Next up, I’m trying – MISO and Summer Half Sour Pickles.

The other book that keeps me up nights digesting it (LOL) is THE GOOD GUT by          Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs.

12 cups of cabbage, 3 tablespoons salt, and time = delicious!

YUMMY sauerkraut is so easy to make. Besides just scooping it out and eating it, I add it to my salads, as a garnish for soups, and as an extra in my wraps. All you need is cabbage, sea salt, a crock or a glass jar, something to weight the cabbage under the brine and a cloth to cover it. I like about 1 part red cabbage to 3 parts green because it is just so brilliantly pink when it’s done. My KRAUT GURU’s book WILD FERMENTATION (Sandor Ellix Katz) is the best bedtime read. Next up, I’m trying – MISO and Summer Half Sour Pickles.

The other book that keeps me up nights digesting it (LOL) is THE GOOD GUT by          Justin & Erica Sonnenburg, PhDs.

Kimchi Yumi

BUILD YOUR IMMUNITY GUT BUGS! Ancient, created thousands of years ago in Korea, kimchi is the perfect gut flora food. Fun to make, it’s really delicious, even if it does smell a bit farty as it cures.

Market List: Napa Cabbage, Daikon, Bok Choy, Carrots, (Pea pods, snow peas, peas, seaweeds, – choose your own added vegetables.) Ginger, Garlic, Onions (green/yellow/white), Leeks, and/or shallots, red hot peppers (fresh dried or in a sauce just be sure no preservatives). Preservative free Fish Sauce (Naum Plum) if  you like. Have FUN!

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Be sure all utensils are are clean. CLEAN means washed, rinsed, then rinsed again with boiling water. PREPARE VEGES: NAPA CABBAGE chopped 12 cups  BOK CHOY chopped 3 cups CARROTS 1 cup sliced DAIKON RADISH cubed 4 cups SEA SALT 8 tablespoons FILTERED WATER 8 cups  Place the vegetables in a large clean ceramic or glass container (never metal or plastic). Dissolve the sea salt in the water to make the brine and pour over the vegetables. Add a plate weighted with a jar of water to keep the vegetables submerged. Cover with a clean cloth  Let cure at least 8 hours, up to 12 hours. Drain the brine and reserve.

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Prepare the spices: GINGER 3 to 5 Tablespoons, grated. ONIONS 1 large WHITE or YELLOW one cut in crescents or chunks; add maybe 5 GREEN onions, diced if you like. LEEK green and white parts sliced in thin rounds, about a cup. GARLIC 5 to 8 large cloves minced. HOT RED CHILIS: 1 ONE 1  Hey – I make my own kimchi because I am not a fiery spice girl. Add what you like but remember, you can’t “de-fire” it.  Taste the veggies and insure they aren’t too salty. If they are too salty, just dilute the brine LATER. Add the alliums and spice mix to the vegetables and blend well with clean hands. You can transfer the entire mixture to a clean (boiled clean) crock at this point or leave in the ceramic bowl. If the vegetables were too salty dilute the brine. Remember, the salt is what helps to safely cure the kimchi so don’t desalinize them. Add brine until your kimchi is fully submerged with about an inch of liquid over it.

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Add a clean plate that covers the vegetables and weight it with a clean large bottle of water. Cover completely with a clean cloth. (Notice the “clean” repeated.) Place in a dust free area for it to nap and ferment. Check daily and press under the brine. Is there yucky stuff? White mold? Just remove it. Other weird stuff, don’t risk eating it. My kimchi ferments for 7 days at 70°F. Then I pack it into clean (sterilized) Ball jars and press it firmly down to insure covered with brine. Seal with clean Ball enamel lined lids. Don’t use metal utensils to scoop your kimchi out of its jar – only wood, ceramic (like Asian soup spoons) or silicone ones. I  drink the leftover brine – no kidding. Kimchi will continue to ferment in the refrigerator, just more slowly. Heat destroys the healthy bacteria, so add Kimchi to maximum 115°F broths. Delicious in miso and you get 2 gut goodies! Always refer to the real expert —Wild Fermentation 

DISCOVERY JOY—North Georgia Candy Roaster

Thank you Farmer Maria! The word that describes this Raleigh City Farm gem – ABUNDANCE!
It’s a terrific winter squash that could work like a summer squash as well.
It’s a healthy eye additive for you and your dog too.

Abundance Soup/Sauce

  • 2 cups cubed peeled candy roaster
  • 1 cup cubed unpeeled from tart apple
  • 1 cup yellow onion crescents
  • 3 cloves of peeled garlic
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Sea salt, fresh black pepper, dash cayenne
  • 2 cups water
  • Garnish – choose marigold petals, pumpkin seeds, teeny cubes of apple, sage leaves

Preheat oven to 425°F. Toss all the ingredients and spread on a parchment lined baking sheet. Roast until the squash is just brown on the edges, about 30 minutes. BUT check after 20 because the onion or apple may need to be rescued. Puree the roasted goodies with 2 cups of water, adding more water as you like. Garnish. It’s great hot or cold, as a soup or as an easy sauce (over or under) roasted cauliflower, poultry, pasta.

YUM!

Candy Roaster Blueberry Muffins

Dry Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons psyllium husks (optional)
  • 1/3 cup sugar 
  • 2/3 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Wet Ingredients:

  • 1 cup mashed roasted candy roaster
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • Zest of 1 lemon or 1/2 orange
  • 1 cup fresh blueberries (or cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Insert paper liners in a 12-muffin baking pan. Mix all dry ingredients including nuts in a large bowl. Mix wet ingredients in another. Combine the wet and dry until just mixed. Gently fold in the blueberries. Spoon batter equally into each muffin liner. Bake for 20 minutes or until the muffins are browned. Remove the muffins from the pan and cool 5 minutes on a wire rack. Eat some. Freeze the rest. 

Seared Autumn Moons

Cut of a 6 inch hunk of candy roaster, split it in half longwise, peel, slice into 1/4” crescents. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a skillet large enough to hold all the roaster slices. Add 1 cup chopped onion, sauté until its translucent. Add 1 teaspoon curry powder or herbes de provence. Cook a minute and scoot the mixture into a bowl. In the skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of ghee, sear the roaster until it is just caramelized and fork tender, not mushy. Add the onion mixture and heat through. Serve hot. 

Topsy-Turvy Fig Cake

Sweet figs and pungent rosemary make this a perfect summer treat. Serve with a creamy French cheese.
Raleigh City Farm has fresh delicious figs, and other fabulous produce. Check out their Wednesdays 4-7 farmstand.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

  • 1-1/2 cups fresh whole ripe figs, sliced in half, stem to blossom end
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup walnut pieces
  • 1/4 cup butter, cut into 1/2-inch or smaller pieces
  • 1/3 cup dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs, separated
  • Scant 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1-1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • Grated zest of one lemon

Heat a 9-inch cake pan in the oven for 5 minutes. Add the butter and return the pan to the oven for about 3 minutes, just until the butter melts. Take the pan out of the oven. Mix the brown sugar with 1 tablespoon of the rosemary. Sprinkle the mixture evenly over the melted butter. Place the figs, skin side up on top of the mixture. Place the walnut pieces in the spaces between the figs.

Place the flour, baking powder, and salt in a bowl and mix well. Whip the egg whites until stiff and set aside. Whip the egg yolks until they are light. Add the sugar to the yolks and whip until the mixture is creamy and fluffy. Add the vanilla, lemon juice, zest, and remaining rosemary. Blend well. Spoon the batter over the figs and even it with an angle spatula. Lightly bump the pan so the batter flows into the figs.

Bake for 40 minutes, checking after 30 minutes. Cool 10 minutes in the pan. Run a knife around the edge of the cake to loosen it form the pan, and turn it onto a serving plate. Eat warm with a triple cream French cheese. It freezes great, too!

Oxalates – BE CAFEFUL – Spinach, Beets, Swiss chard, Endive, etc…

I just wrote Dr. Gundry. I really like his podcast because he has all sorts of geniuses speak, even if he doesn’t agree with them. I was about to load up on Belgian endive, a member of the chicory family, when I learned more about oxalates. Here’s what I wrote to Dr. G.

“Dr. Dr. G — Recently I was diagnosed with Lichen Planus, UGH! I am a Food/Health Chef (passionate nut). In researching potential diet culprits, seems oxalate heavy foods can be contributors. I sparingly eat Swiss chard, spinach but I was eating beet greens and beets (even juicing them), and just bought endive, radicchio because of your podcast recommendation BUT these also have oxalate (oxalic acid).

It’s important to address OXALATE specific foods. Maybe talk about Lichen Planus/Lichen Sclerosus. I’ll stick with my cruciferous greens (kale, arugula, collards, mustard greens, turnip greens) as my everyday greens, but enjoy beet greens (and beets), Swiss chard, spinach, endive, and radicchio, occasionally.

Thanks, and I do love your podcast. As a Duke Integrative Medicine Health Coach/Nutritional (delicious foods) Chef, I send all my clients your way!

chamberslife.com”