Tuesday’s Treats, times two

Hi, back again, just wanted  to share another recipe for today.  I made this yesterday & really, really enjoyed it this morning with greek yogurt.

Okay, sure we all have granola recipes, the more the merrier.  Yum.  This one turns out so pretty once you add some dried cherries at the end of baking.  I filled a container to add to a college care package and you can see by the photograph there is still more than enough for the family.

Oh by the way, yep, that is a mermaid on my kitchen wall.  Love her.  She makes me smile.  She lifts my mood every single time I glance at her.

Here we go:

Olive Oil and Maple Granola Adapted from Nekisia Davis, Early Bird Foods, and Food 52

300 grams (3 cups) rolled oats 125 grams (1 cup) raw hulled pumpkin seeds 130 grams (1 cup) raw hulled sunflower seeds 50 grams (1 cup) unsweetened coconut chips 135 grams (1 ¼ cup) raw pecans, whole or chopped 85 grams (packed ½ cup) light brown sugar 1 tsp. kosher salt 175 ml (¾ cup) maple syrup, preferably Grade B 120 ml (½ cup) olive oil Dried cherries, optional
Pre-heat the oven to 300°F.  Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the oats, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, coconut chips, pecans, light brown sugar, and salt.  Stir to mix.  Add the olive oil and maple syrup, and stir until well combined.  Spread the mixture in an even layer on the prepared sheet pan.  Bake, stirring every 15 minutes, until the granola is golden brown and toasted, about 45 minutes.  Remove the granola from the oven, and season with more salt to taste.  Cool completely on a wire rack.  If you’d like, stir in some dried cherries.  Store in an airtight container.
Note: Will keep at room temperature for up to a month.
Say Grace and dig in!

Tuesday’s Treats

I happen to love the blog www.dailygarnish.com  She is a smart cookie with a wit about her.  When you read her recipes you connect with a spirit of goodness. She went to school at Johnson and Wales University, Providence, Rhode Island.  (son number one and daughter in law just happened to have gone there).  She lives in Seattle and she is a Vegan cook and has a wonderful way with recipes.   This is one of her delightful offerings.

You already know, I try to have an appetizer ready 3-4 times a week before dinner.  Make this and put it in front of the kiddos playing a video game.  I am quite sure the veggies will disapear & you might have a discussion about the word “vegan” at the dinner table tonight.  The husbands won’t say a word, their mouths will be filled with cucumber slices dipped into yummy dip.

You will fall head over heels in LOVE with this one.  Healthy, DELICIOUS, cheap inexpensive and oh my goodness easy.

Easy “Cheesy” Vegan Bean Dip…………here we go:

1 can of Tri-Beans, drained  (Fred Meyer 99 cents) , 2 tablespoons of Nutritional yeast, 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt, a sprig or two of cilantro,  toss everything in the food processor.  Whirl around until it becomes dip.  Ta Da

Serve with cut up veggies and tortilla chips.

Say Grace and dig in! 

dryer sheet drama

First and foremost, we all KNOW there are 9 harmful chemicals in dryer sheets.  Three of those are toxic chemicals.  These are bad.  period.  Ever taken a walk on Sunday evening in your neighborhood?  The smell of dryer sheets fills the air like smoke at a summer beach bonfire.  It is frightening.  Okay, so we are all in agreement.  These are bad guys.  These are harmful to our health, our families’ health, the environment, yes, we get it.   We all bought into the idea that our laundry “needed” to smell mountain fresh without having to do the work and hang them outside.

It was about 4 years ago that I think we all learned of their dangers.  So I, like everyone else tried everything I could get my hands on.  I made my own softener,  C+.  I purchased two pieces of fabric that were to eliminate static cling, A-.  I have set the timer and ran like a crazy woman to pour in a cup of white vinegar into the rinse cycle, B-. I have purchased two plastic balls that were guaranteed to stop static, B-.   I have hung clothes outside, A+.  However, in the dead of winter with ice on the ground, I am not thrilled with that option.    So I searched and found a couple of companies that supposedly don’t use harsh chemicals in their product.  They are not paying me so I don’t want to promote them.  Hey, maybe they would send me a free box of them or something?  Ok, Mrs. Meyers and Seventh Generation supposedly don’t use harmful chemicals.  Who knows?

The static is so horrid this time of year, Mr. Right even went out and bought a can of spray anti-static.  Gee, I wonder what miracle chemical is in that can?  Dress clothes for work are not quite as professional looking when a gentleman’s slacks stick to his legs when he gets up to greet a co-worker or client.  So we bend our rules.  We use the spray.

I did read a tip yesterday that made me want to slap my head in amazement.  duh, I can not believe that I didn’t think of this sooner.  If you must use dryer sheets (to stop from being electrocuted when shaking hands with another human or getting out of the car this time of year), AT LEAST cut the dryer sheets in half and only use half in a load.  It works the same, gets rid of static and you get twice as many in a box as you originally thought.  Well, now there is a common sense idea……why didn’t I think of that maybe 30 YEARS AGO??????

I continue my research.  I would love any tips you have found that work for you to eliminate static cling.

I am trying to have the grace to search change all while continuing to do laundry every single day of my life.

Thus ends today’s ranting and raving.

No Blue Ribbon.

I have a tendency to work on things for quite some time for the perfect result.  Once for a two and a half-year period I worked on and off on making the PERFECT pizza crust.  You know it was an obsession when the kids gave me a pizza dough recipe book, flour and pans for Christmas one year. You may have heard a word or two about my biscuit baking adventure.  I am going to keep going until I can bake a light, fluffy & enjoyable biscuit.  I am not a biscuit fan, however I really, really want to be.   You all know I am on test try number 28 for baking the perfect English Muffin.  I write down new suggestions and little tweaks each try, somewhat like a mad scientist.  I am like a dog with a good marrow filled bone.  I just can’t let it drop.  I don’t like to be defeated.

When it comes to baking, I like standing in the winner’s circle.  When I was 12 years old I won a blue ribbon at the Western Washington State Fair for my Peanut Brittle.  My oh my did I love my first glimpse of that royal blue ribbon with gold lettering.  Blue Ribbon Winner.  I loved that feeling.  So puffed up, almost better than dreaming about wearing a sparkly crown.

Currently garlic soup is my mission, passion or obsession if you will.  I can’t, I won’t stop reading and researching recipes.  I am fascinated at just how many people have tried dozens upon dozens of different recipes in their personal attempt to create “the one”.   So fascinated lately, that Mr. Right bought and brought home a 5 pound bag of the stinking rose!  Ah, the aroma of garlic, once roasted or simmered it works itself into something round and mild, mellow creamy goodness.

That’s what I want to share, a recipe called Garlic Soup Goodness. Yesterday, I was so full of confidence that this recipe was “the” one, that I took pictures along the way to share with my friends and neighbors and the world really (well the blog world at least).  I used 3/4 of a cup of the wonderful stuff.  Pureed and simmered in fruity Olive Oil to a light honey color.  I gently added the broth and a cup of 2002 Chardonnay.  I had it on low, low, low for a good hour.  Then right before dinner tonight I added the cubed potatoes, cream and milk (I bought the real thing, did not want to use Almond Milk or Soy anything.  I made a special trip to buy the forbidden dairy products.)  I added them along with the salt and pepper to taste.  I used my handy-dandy immersion blender.  If I have forgotten to mention, I “heart” my immersion blender about 2 dozen times a week.  Love it so much I want to marry it.

Nearing the finish line, the sample taste.  The spoon, the moment, bring the spoon down into the stock pot of goodness.  With my left hand under my mouth and the spoon coming up to my lips, the moment, the sparkling moment when one confidently takes a step into the winner’s circle to receive the Blue Ribbon.

Wait.  All I can taste is the harsh & very aggressive flavor.  Mr. Right takes his first sample.  His first glorious words, “it is inedible”.  We did not have soup to accompany our evening meal.  Oh sure, I had put some garlic into the oven earlier, so I had plenty of roasted garlic to smear on slices of Cibbata bread.  We had a wonderful meal.  Very good.  I was a bit out of sorts, I don’t like it when recipes crash and burn.

It hoovered! (We did not allow the boys to say “that sucked” so they came up with the word hoovered (as in vacuumed).  It hoovered BIG TIME!  Just being honest.  Dang.

Usually, I try to share something good that happened to me or some wonderful recipe that you would love to make.  I try to share recipes that have worked for me over and over so that you too will have the same success.

Scratch.  Isn’t that the correct word when a horse doesn’t even finish the race? Scratch.  Cut, take 7.   Yep, it HOOVERED!  As the teenagers are fond of saying these days, FAIL.  My cell phone sometimes reads, No service in area.  Boo & Hiss.

Have the common sense to put the cover back on the soup and do not serve it.  Move on.  Enjoy your meal.  Pretend not to be thinking of it.  Come up with the idea of writing on your blog about it.  Life is too good to muddy it up by going on and on about some stinky soup.  Be polite to your dinner companion.

Having good manners is the art of choosing among one’s real thoughts.   (dang, I wanted that blue ribbon)

Let’s get this conversation started.

I fell head over heels in love with this Valentine craft.  Easy and under $5.00.  I made four colors.  Out of each Sculpey clay packet (on sale this week at JoAnn’s) I was able to glean 11 hearts.  I think I am headed back to find some pale green.

I tried making the hole with a straw.  Too big.  I ended up using a chop stick.  perfect.    I tried a couple different letters.  My metal stamp letters worked best.

Roll out the clay to about 1/8″ thick.  Use a different sheet of parchment for each color (trust me).  Cut out hearts, I used a 1 1/2 inch plastic cookie cutter.  Place on parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake at 275* for 20 minutes.  I let dry in the oven with the oven turned off.

I used white embroidery floss to make the hangers.  One skein costs 39 cents at the fabric store. 


Plenty to talk about.

Found some branches in the yard while cleaning up the storm damage.  They “magically” have turned into a bouquet of Valentine goodness on the dining room table.  Make me smile way more than having to pick them up from the yard.

Christmas in January, February, March….

Happily, I am not cooking a full holiday meal with all the china, crystal and linens for tonight.  No, I am not wearing a festive sweater with carols playing in the background either.   I am not wrapping any presents today.  Nor am I anxious, worried, fretful that I don’t have “enough” for someone’s stocking.  I am not in panic mode.

I am pretty centered today.  I biked three miles, had a couple of glasses of water, did some yoga stretching, bed made, laundry going, you get the idea.

I am not a huge Christmas fan.  Oh don’t misunderstand me, I love the advent candles and the church songs and I love baking delicious holiday treats.  I love the look of one candle in each window to decorate the house.  I love a big, fat, luscious evergreen wreath on the front door.  I love sending the perfect gift for the perfect person.  I love going on our yearly drive to drink cocoa and look at lights.  I love building a gingerbread house with Mr. Right one evening or decorating cookies “the Wilson way”.

This overwhelming panic seems to sneak in around October each year.  Reviewing all “that I have to do” just takes hold of me and I can’t seem to calm down.  Yes, we budget each month of the year for Christmas.  The envelope is always ready if I find a gift or supply to make something, or a rubber stamp for the season etc.  So I am not nervous about that.  The decorations go up earlier and the people in general seem grumpy.  Everyone seems rushed and if you don’t join in, you somehow feel  out of the loop.

So along with preparing through saving for Christmas each month, here is what I do:  on the 25th of each month I take the day, or one close if it falls on a weekend or a special occasion etc. and I do something for Christmas.  I already have my Christmas in October planned.  I am working on Christmas cards all day long, October 25th, 2012.  I will stamp them and create the return address labels (or order those), figure out a family picture, sign the cards, write a family letter and print those.  At the end of the day, they will all be boxed up and put away.  September is already earmarked for stockings.  Buying or sewing new.  Decorating them and spending the day buying little do dads to fill er up!  No, I do not look at the contents of the box all the time, it is put away at the end of the day.  I am trying to avoid the dreaded sales, mad dashing and frantic pace that seems to begin in earnest in October.

With all the downed trees and limbs and branches of the storm last week, oh my gosh, I could create all sorts of swags and wreaths and baskets of lush evergreens for our home.  I am guessing they would dry out and not look so fresh and pretty by December?

Today, I will be in my sewing room.  I have ordered supplies and purchased materials & notions earlier in the month.  I have set each aside & stacked them up.  I haven’t touched one thing, even though I am excited to get started.  Today, I will be sewing two different kinds of Christmas gifts.  By the end of the day, they will be put away, wrapped in tissue and the sewing room cleaned up.  I am making 8 of one craft and 12 of the other.  I will do all the finishing work and each gift will be ready to wrap, tag and give.

I can’t begin to tell you how good it feels to open my “Christmas” box sometime the end of November.  It is like a breath of fresh air.  Somehow by then I will have forgotten that I made my gifts today.  Somehow with everything that will go on this year, I will forget that all my little gift tags are stamped and glittered and have string on them just waiting to be used. 

Instead of being grumpy and frustrated and feel pushed to make Christmas happy and make everyone around me happy, I get to gently with grace celebrate my own kind of Advent all year-long on the 25th of each month.  I get to be joy filled and drink cocoa if I want.  I can calmly put my heart and soul into some presents or tags or cards.  I keep a little note-book with within the box.  If an idea pops into my head about what to get someone or another craft idea to make I jot it down.  If I come up with a creative centerpiece or an idea for decorating I note that as well.  This year, like every year, we will make our way to the beach for a mini vacation.  This time, when meandering through a seaside gift shop or two, I am going to pick up some shells, sand dollars and star fish.  Then when I come home, the next month on the 25th I will be wiring each of those and will choose a ribbon to go with.  I want our front door Evergreen wreath to have the sea tied and wired all around it.  So instead of grabbing a loose piece of ribbon from my ribbon box that will look okay, I will already have in mind what I will be using on our wreath.

 Advent is the period of preparation for the celebration of  the birth of Jesus and its name comes from the Latin word adventus,  which means “coming”.

So I will continue my own “advent” tradition.  It works for me.  I will greet each 25th day of the month with grace and a sense of calm.  May we all find Christ in every moment of our Christmas.  Even if “Christmas” is on the 25th of January, February, March…….

Tuesday’s Treats

When I was a little girl around the age of 5, my sisters and I had matching aprons.  They were our soup aprons.  We were told little girls wore soup aprons when they ate soup.   Ours had pale flowers all over them with pink piping.

My mother would go bowling once a week on Tuesday evenings with the neighbor lady.  My Dad was a policeman at the time, so sometimes we would have this really nice lady come stay with us, because he was working.  She was the one who sewed us matching aprons.  She was also the lady who put peanut butter in my curly hair to try to get a tangled hair brush out…..but that is a whole other can of worms……………….

My mother loved, loved, loved black bean soup.  I don’t think little girls often asked for Black Bean soup.  We did.  Always when it was soup time.  My mother used Campbell’s soup.  We now know that no human should eat Campbell’s soup at least not today with all the chemicals and additives and colorings.

A few years ago, I found a recipe and it took me right back to my pink apron with black bean soup slopped and dripped down the front.   I am thinking that is why “big” girls wore soup aprons?

Here is my Tuesday’s Treat offering:   Black Bean Soup

2 Tablespoons vegetable oil

1/2 cup chopped carrots

1/2 cup chopped celery

1/2 cup chopped onion

1 can diced tomatoes

3 cans of black beans

3 cloves garlic

1/4 cup minced cilantro

Heat oil in a medium sauce pan on medium heat; add carrots, celery, onion & garlic.  Cook about 15 minutes or until tender.  Add remaining ingredients except cilantro.  Heat to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 20  more minutes.  Add cilantro.  Use an immersion blender and blend ”er up!   Freezes very well.

Say Grace and dig in!