KODIAK — As we enter Thanksgiving week, I’d like to focus on a few ways we can make a difference to ourselves, our neighbors, our community and our gardens. In a second, I’ll share my all-time favorite pumpkin pie recipe. But I want to cover four easy projects we can accomplish whilst the weather smiles upon us.

— In the garden: It’s not too late to prune your raspberry plants and tend to rhododendrons. Clip out any raspberry canes that bore fruit this last summer. For rhododendron plants, mulch with a layer of leaves around the base of the plants. Pull leaves away from the trunk, however, and don’t put down too thick of a layer. Rhodies are shallow-rooted and need more drainage and air in the root zone than almost all other garden plants. If you live in a windy spot, anchor the leaves with spruce boughs. 

By the way, if your rhododendron is looking spindly, grab the pruning shears. You’ll sacrifice some flower buds, but the plant’s energies will divert to what are called “latent growth” buds. These buds will then be ready to push out their new growth early in the growing season.

— Make exercise a habit: Do you have an exercise schedule? Michelle Obama would say, “Get moving!” It’s too easy to talk yourself out of exercise. Find a walking or swimming buddy, join the gym or a fitness center or stroll around the harbor floats. Speaking of harbor floats…

— Let’s light up the harbor: Mark your calendar. This year’s Harbor Lights Festival is scheduled for December 15 from 5 to 9 PM. Don’t wait until the day before to decorate your boat or kayak. Jump on those nice weather days to string up some lights. How wonderful it would be to see St. Paul Harbor lit up in Christmas lights!

— Free movie and food Fun-Raiser: On Friday, the Orpheum Theater and the Kodiak Lions Club are sponsoring s viewing of Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald. Entrance fee for youths is three nonperishable food items. For adults it’s five nonperishable food items or $5. All food is donated to the School Hunger Program and the Salvation Army. Door open at 1:30 p.m. The movie starts at 2 p.m..

— Mail a postcard. Not everyone does Facebook. We all know how good it feels to receive a handwritten card or note? Think of someone in your life that you haven’t contacted for a while. Drop them a line — it might end up being a life-line.

— What’s for Thanksgiving dinner? Does it include gravy, butter, whip cream or ham? When it comes to food, we have choices. Not to be the bearer of bad news, but our food choices are killing us. I’m sure you know someone who has recently suffered a heart attack or stroke. Yes, in spite of attempts to medicate away our illnesses, North Americans are sicker than ever. According to the the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease kills one in four Americans.  

What is the leading cause of heart disease? Plaque. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues.” The bottom line: heart disease is correctable by adopting a healthy diet, getting exercise, achieving an optimal weight and by not smoking. 

One of the fastest ways to halt heart disease is to adopt a plant-based diet. Am I full of it? Watch the new film, The Game Changers, by director James Cameron which features vegan Olympic athletes and bodybuilders. For seven years, Cameron has been a vegan. His film debunks the common misconception that a vegan diet lacks sufficient protein. 

— Make a difference for the Earth: As for veganism, Cameron believes in it completely. “If we don’t make a major shift as a civilization, and I mean that globally, towards plant-based eating, we’re just not going to make it,” he said in an interview with The Independent earlier this year.

It’s one way we can start making a global difference by taking baby steps. And, why not start with pumpkin pie?




This recipe is adapted from a Food.com listing. I’m matching it with a recipe for a crust made with just two ingredients. Hold onto your hats, Thanksgiving dessert is about to undergo a revolution.

2 cups pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato or yam

3/4 cup brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon ground cloves

1/4 teaspoon allspice

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

1 (10 oz.) package soft tofu (not low fat)

1/8 cup molasses

1 pie shell (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Cream all ingredients in a food processor.

Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for about 50 minutes. Serve warm or chill and top with cashew cream.



1-1/2 tightly-packed almond flour, available in local stores. (Use 2 cups for a deep-dish pie). 1 tablespoon ground flax seed (If all you have is whole flax seed, simply grind them in a nut/seed grinder or coffee grinder)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix flax meal with 3 tablespoons water and set it aside for 10 minutes. Process almond flour in a food processor and while it’s running pour in the flax mixture. Pulse until dough is soft, smooth, and sticking together. Drizzle in more water if needed. Turn dough out onto a sheet of plastic wrap, press it together tightly, shape into a disc, and chill for 30 to 60 minutes. Roll the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap and then set it out into a pie plate, leaving a sheet of wrap on top. Press the dough up the sides of the pie dish. Finish the edges using your fingers or a fork. Dock the crust (poke it all over with a fork). Bake for 15 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden.

Marion Owen’s 2018 calendars are available at local Kodiak retailers. For more gardening, photography and cooking tips, plus tasty-healthy recipes, join Marion’s newsletter. To sign up, visit Marion’s blog at marionowenalaska.com.

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