good food = happy

20170725_165021-1_resizedLast year I thought we had way too many green beans.  I got the giggles 20180620_084922_resizedeverytime I ventured into the garden.  Our supply seemed never-ending.  We ate baskets and baskets of green beans.  We gave away bags full.  I cooked every recipe I could think of.  I froze some.

This Spring, I had learned my lesson and only planted four bean plants.  One didn’t make it.   Actually, three might be just enough.

It started out pretty easy.   I picked a 20180815_095417-1basket full and we had an amazing Sunday dinner.  Then a few days later I made Greek Green beans.  Oh, yes, Fried Rice with our green beans.

September has dawned and yes, I am still discussing and picking green beans.

I have given away a bag or two.  I tucked some in the bag with eggs I gave away.

I have a  friend who has the most incredible mind.  I want to call her a Renaissance woman. Self-sufficient and brilliant when it comes to making things.   She has this amazing ability to create so many different things. She is an expert knitter. Her quilting skills are admired by anyone privileged to see her work.  She designs things with beads that are so unique, they grab your attention right from the start.  However, it’s her cooking, baking, gardening skills that will make you lean in and listen.  She has much to offer to those of us willing to be still and watch/listen/learn.

“I like good food & food waste drives me nuts.  Fresh produce is a gift never to be squandered.”  FL

 

Notice every time I gathered goodness from the garden, yes, yes, indeed, more beans.  With the abundance of beans in my life, I got a bit whiney.

My renaissance friend encouraged me to dry some as snacks.   BRILLIANT!

 

Oops, I may have forgotten to take an after picture.  Suffice it to say, the bowl was empty but for a flake of nutritional yeast here or there.

“I like good food, I want those around me to eat good food.  Good Food makes everyone happy.”  FL

Last evening, I filled a pretty bowl.

Yes, you guessed it.

Green Beans.

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In this together, friends.

May you all be lucky enough to have a friend to learn from.  She makes life better.

Chat soon.

 

 

dip time

One of the “recipes” I made as a kid was brilliant.

Have your mom buy a container of sour cream and one of those boxes of French Onion Soup mix.  It came with packets of dehydrated onions and other mystery, magical powder.

*We did not read ingredient lists 40 years ago.   (come to find out, “other dry powder” was MSG, corn syrup, sugar, corn starch, hydrolyzed soy protein, caramel color, gluten, yeast extract, “natural” flavors, disodium inosinate, disodium guanylate.)   soup mix 2

Mix together.  Dip chips or crackers into the dip mix and scoop up as much as possible.  It was salty, fancy dip.

Hello, 2018.

You could follow the same recipe today.

Or, here’s a brilliant, self-loving thought, you could make your own!

Important note: so you are not a sad-faced reader by the end of this post.  Make this today because you have to let it sit in the refrigerator overnight!  

First, make the Wellness Mama dry mix recipe and store in a glass jar.  You can use it to shake some potatoes in before you roast them, actually make soup or use like you always use the dry onion soup mix. https://wellnessmama.com/2293/french-onion-soup-mix/

I also make the mix minus the dehydrated onion.  I will tell you why.  I caramelize my own onions and add the seasonings.

Wait.  It is SO EASY PEASY. Yep. Even a teenager from the 70’s can mix it up.

Why on earth would you go to the “trouble” of making your own?

1. Because the Olympics are about to begin and we all want to watch a little television olympic ringsand just maybe while we watch amazingly fit, world-class athletes compete we would like to wear yoga pants and sit on the sofa and have something to dip our salty, crispy snacks into.

2. Because you have an exchange student visiting and you want to set out some munchies and she can’t have dairy.

3. Because you have chosen not to eat dairy for the Lenten season that is about to begin.pray fast give

4. Because your friend just found out they have Celiac disease and you want to serve some snacks and show a little empathy because he no longer can have that dry onion soup mix, that he loves.gluten free

5.  Because you are vegan. vegan girl

6.  Because you are a smarty pants and don’t eat chemicals.

 

 

Enough talk….let’s do this.

Make sour cream.  (gentle suggestion?  make a double batch, seriously, because I said so.)

Soak 1 cup of raw cashews in hot water for an hour.  drain.   Okay, put the softened raw cashews, 1/2 cup water, 1 Tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 1 Tablespoon lemon juice and 1/2 teaspoon salt into a high-speed blender and like good Jazz music……until smooth and dreamy.  Supposedly this stores in the refrigerator for one week in a glass container with a lid.  We have NEVER had it around that long to actually test that. haha

caramelized onionsOkay, while your cashews were soaking………….chop up a large onion (I love to use one big ol’ Walla Walla sweet onion or 2  yellow onions) add 1 Tablespoon olive oil and 1/4 (yes, 1/4) teaspoon sugar and start cooking all that onion goodness.  You want it to be all golden and caramelized.  It’s going to take 15 to 20 minutes of listening to music or you have time for a TED talk.  You gotta stay there and keep those beautiful pieces of onion dancing around in that pan. Keep going…….not quite……….you want it really, really golden.  done.

Okay, mix together 1 batch of your sour cream, about 1 Tablespoon of the dry onion soup mix mentioned above.  It will be approximately 1/2 teaspoon, onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon celery salt. 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley, 1/2 teaspoon sea salt and all those beautiful caramelized onion bits and pieces…...yes, scrape the pan, get all that amazing flavor. 

Here comes the tricky, hard part.  Put into the refrigerator for 4 hours or better yet, overnight!  What???  Sadly, it is hard to wait.  Those flavors need to marry up and the beautiful caramel color needs to swirl around.  dip3

However, tomorrow night when the Olympics come on and you are about to sit down………that beautiful, caramelized onion dip will be waiting just for you and your family.dip

In this together, friends.

Oh wait, you have a little something on your chin…

Chat soon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

friends share zucchini

When we were young, my mother would constantly remind us to choose our friends wisely.   “If you hang around sailors, you are going to swear like a sailor”.

cracker jacksOnce a month, our parents would go out to dinner.  The babysitter would give us each a box of Cracker Jack’s.   The boy on the box was the only sailor I really “knew”. He had a dog and gave away a surprise.  He didn’t seem that harmful.

Enter a new friend I made a few years back.  She is Greek.  Thus my curiosity in Greek cooking and dishes and customs has increased 10 fold.

Is it any wonder that lately I am drawn to Greek recipes like a dog to a dripping ice cream cone?

I made so many Greek Green Beans last year, even I got a bit tired of that dish.  For a time, I added Spanakopita to the lineup. Awww, my love affair with Filo Dough is alive and well, people.

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A couple of days ago, a neighbor graciously shared some zucchini with us.  Goodness, it’s that season of an over abundance of that vegetable.  Everyone is “blessing” anyone they know or don’t know with that vegetable.   I will admit to not planting any in my garden.  I had a sneaky suspicion that someone would have an extra one or two they would share.

You know?…………it’s been ages since I rustled up some Zucchini Fritters.  Sounds really lovely for a nice summer dinner.  Slice up some cucumbers and tomatoes and onions………we were off and running.

I went to look up my recipe……….wait, what’s this?

Greek Zucchini Fritters?  Yes, please!

20170810_123041-1_resized_1Google can most certainly help you with a recipe.

Would you like two 20170810_182808-1_resized_2secret tricks to beautiful fritters?

Shred the zucchini, salt with some Rosemary salt and let it drain for a couple of hours. Then squeeze out all the moisture you can.  Go heavy on the dill.  No, add a bit more.  Okay, a touch more.  Ha, that’s about right.  Wait, maybe another sprig or two.  Geesh, you already have the cutting board & knife out on the counter.

You will need:

2-pound large zucchini, trimmed and grated (I used the fetafood processor), Rosemary salt, fresh ground pepper,  2 eggs, 1/2 cup chopped mixed fresh herbs, dill, mint, parsley ( you know I went heavy on the dill), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 cup breadcrumbs or more if necessary, 1 cup of beautiful Feta (the really good stuff, with extra zip/tang, spend the money, go to the deli, I’m telling you, it’s worth it)

No, I didn’t deep fry those beauties.  I used a griddle and got them nice and crispy. So alongside those crispy edges and a warm, tender center, I served a luscious creamy tzatziki sauce, which is the combination we are all looking to create.

The very next time you come home and someone has “graciously” dumped 2 or 3 zucchini’s on your door step…………..instead of the “well, I guess I could bake some zucchini bread” which will never get finished…………………. Might I gently suggest a tasty alternative?

I offer up to you……………..TA-DA…….Glorious Greek Zucchini Fritters.

So easy, so flavorful, crispy outside, moist, “meaty” delicious inside.
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Oh, and in the choosing friends wisely department?

I chose wisely.

Chat soon.

 

 

oh boy!

There are people whom one loves immediately and for ever.  Even to know they are alive in the world with one is quite enough.  Nancy Spain

I am not a fan of attending baby or bridal showers.

Yes, I have hosted several.  Yes, I always R.S.V.P and yes, I will be attending.  Yes, I take a gift and yes, I thank the hostess for including me.

That being said, let me explain.  First, after being a career Army wife, just imagine how many baby showers one is invited to?  Seriously, think of all the young families and how many children they have.  Each of those families is away from their home town friends and kinsfolk, so Army wives step in and fill that gap.  You attend.  You just do.  You help them celebrate, you are their “family” so you show up with a smile.

Second, I loath the goofy , often times embarrassing parlor games.

Third, I never really enjoyed putting on stockings,  the traditional pumps or sandals depending on the time of year, the pretty party dress to walk around someones’ living room, sit like a lady for 2.5 hours and drink weak coffee out of a proper cup and saucer with 99% of the people I have never met.

Fourth ( and this is just me grumbling), I can’t have the sugar laden punch and for some reason, often times said punch is served with globs of floating colorful sherbet.  I can’t have the amazing, lush,  array of desserts that are always, always served.

Most weird feeling  of all, the opening of the gifts.

Let’s talk gifts, shall we?

I have done handiwork since I was 12 years old.  I have practiced sewing, quilting, embroidery and as of the last 3 months, I am learning to crochet.  I feel compelled to do my very, very best and make something with my own hands to give as an offering.  The idea of a shower is to SHOWER the recipient with love & goodness.  I want to be part of the celebration and join in the tradition of giving handwork made with love.  I have been practicing for so long, that when the time comes to offer up a beautifully wrapped surprise I want the person to feel bathed in Grace with what I have made.   I want them to know that they were thought about and I started making something just for them weeks, often times, months prior to the party.   (Who knew it would take me so long to crochet a baby blanket?) 20170428_111916-1_resized (1)

Here’s where the awkward part comes in, it’s not you, it’s me people, really.

I honesty want to make gifts for some folks.  However, when said gift is opened in front of 28 other people who exclaim, “You MADE that”?  It is a tad weird feeling.  My face feels hot.  My hands start sweating. 20170428_111810-1_resized

 No, I did not make it to impress you or to “show off”.  No, I don’t really want to make something for your twice removed cousin, I don’t even know you, let alone your cousin.  (Whom I am sure is very nice.)  No, I don’t sew for money.  I’m truly sorry you “hate’ me for making something.  THEN, to top it off, I never really know a sincere, pleasant way of saying, “Oh, your present of a “gift card” will be so nice for them to go to the store and buy something they want.”

I just want to take a moment out of my life and make something from my heart. I want to give a gift, just not the opening in front of people thing.

I was graciously invited to attend a baby shower.  At first so excited to be included on their list of friends, then the worry about attending set in……… this past weekend I went and golly gee, I must say, I was pleasantly surprised.

With the exception for my own daughter in law, I have not been to a shower in a few years.

The food.   Holy Guacamole!!!!    There was a Nacho Bar!!  Really great choices and you got to build your own. In essence, no one cared what you put on your creation, no one gave a hoot if you ate meat or not, liked hot peppers or not.  It was a WONDERFUL idea and so dang TASTY!

Yes, there was a glorious dessert table, chocolate fountain and candy bar….there was also a gorgeous array of fruit to choose from.  Glory be, something for everyone.  dessert bar

From the invitations to the decorations, all was charming and well thought out.  Very festive and felt so happy.   Everyone attending was friendly and a pleasure to be around.

Huge news!  There was only one game and it was more of an interview of the parents to guess each other’s answers.  So sweet and kind, nothing rude or embarrassing.  It was fun to listen and watch, very entertaining.20170429_105336-1_resized

Good gravy, I even wore a cute outfit of jeans, sassy shoes and fun jewelry.  No stockings or stuffy proper dress! (My girlfriend challenged me to take a selfie.  Seriously, this selfie “thing” is a weird hobby.  I did take the picture, pretty sure it won’t become a habit.  ha)

When it came time for my present, the gift opening still felt a bit awkward.  My cheeks blushed and my hands felt sticky.   I thought about it on the way home.

Grown up Girl, Light bulb moment!!!!!!! Listen to this pearl.

You know, I love those parents-to-be so much, I don’t honestly care what others think.  How’s that for personal growth????

 I wanted them to know, I was trying my very best to make several homemade gifts for their new sweet babe.  It wasn’t about what others thought.  It was about my heart & soul and wanting to lift them up in celebration.  It was about showering them with love.

I’ve been practicing for over 40 years with needle and thread.  I got the call!  These are the moments I have been working towards, learning new, even stitches.  I have a reason to wash my hands, warm up the sewing machine, buy some yarn and get a move on.

Their sweet baby boy will be having his birthday sometime in June.  That gives me plenty of time to hand stitch a “welcome to the world” gift.  Oh, you know, each stitch will be made with love and prayers for that new baby and parents.

Love to hear what you have made for a baby or bridal shower.  Please don’t keep me in suspense.  Please tell me there are others out there who make something with their hands to celebrate life and love!

What are you making a new baby in your life? I would love to swap ideas.

Oh, boy!

just checking

20170423_174116-1-1_resized_1A friend sent me a message.

“Hey, you still there?  Just checking.”

I proceeded to answer with 4 long paragraphs.

Oh dear, I think the salutation was meant just as a “hi, how ya doin’ ” kind of thing.   Guess, I was over zealous in my response.

Lately, it seems to be a weird season in my world.  I feel like I am moving along quietly, making things to give, studying………oh, I don’t know, keeping my head down and moving forward.

When someone gently taps me on the shoulder and asks if I am still here, the dam breaks and I gush about this and that.

I rambled on about my gardening.  One entire raised bed is planted with potatoes. Before you know it, I will be sharing pictures of deep verdant green leaves of my growing Yukon Gold taters!   I also mentioned that I crushed all my saved up egg shells and worked them into the bed that will be lush to overflowing with tomatoes!

20170415_165650_resizedI was excited to announce that I finally bought a fig tree.  Oh, I dream of the day when I am complaining about what other recipe I could find to use up all the figs I grow!  Waiting for the soaking rain to lighten up just a bit so “we” (read that as Mr. Right) can dig a hole and plant my new tree.

I blathered on about crafting and sewing. During my yucky medicine time during lunch, I like to concentrate on a new crochet stitch to learn.  By the end of lunch time, I have figured out the stitch and then find pockets of time here and there to finish another hat to donate.   (Good news, I think I have a line on another place to donate baby hats instead of just the hospital and that makes me happy.)

I am still here.

I am on the last coat of white paint for a baseboard project.  I am toying with the idea of painting the back of the front door.  Two outdoor, humongous flower pots are emptied, cleaned and drying…just waiting for a non rain day, so I can paint them.   I purchased a new bar stool that is working very well.   Bought new sheets. Spent 16 plus hours learning and studying The Truth about Vaccines with Ty Bollinger.  (Excellent documentary 5 STAR rating)   Watched Hockey playoffs.  Then out of the blue, last week, I made the best crepes I think I have ever, ever made.

Oh, and I wanted to share one last thing.  I made a silly, goofy, happy Jelly Fish finger puppet.  Then I put it into an envelope and mailed it to a certain grandson.  Everyone loves snail mail.  Hey, funny….. I sent a jelly fish using snail mail! We were thrilled goofy grandparents watching a video of him being happy with his new creature.  heehee. Certainly, time well spent.  I think he really likes it.

Made him giggle.  SOOOOO worth it. 20170420_160714-1_resized

THANKS for checking in on me. Even if you didn’t want an entire run down of life in my neck of the woods, it sure felt nice to have someone ask.  Thanks for listening to my long-winded answer.

When I asked how life was in your neck of the woods, I really meant it.  I am interested in what you are reading or planting.  I want to know that for some weird reason you splurged and went out and got frozen yogurt with toppings. I will be happy to hear you too are waiting for the heavy rains to pass so you can plant your garden.

Makes me smile & feel safe knowing there are other humans out there that are kind enough to check in and see how life is tumbling along.

Gotta Swish Jellyfish……….I am headed into the kitchen to do a little baking.  Also into the sewing room to frame a just finished counted cross stitch piece.  I have 3.5 miles of biking to do and going to spend some time jumping on the rebounder. Fingers crossed the mail man comes to deliver a new vacuum ( you KNOW I will have something to say about that!)

Gotta tell ya, it feels mighty nice to have a friend check in on you.

Let’s make that happen today!  Just send this brief message to someone in your world today.

“Hey, you still there?  Just checking.”

In this together, chat soon.

 

 

 

 

 

friendship eggs

Similar to Facebook, sharing pictures and writing a blog post, you get to decide your “true” colors to show off.  You get to put your best foot forward, every single time.  Creating the illusion that everything turns out perfect.  Every single craft project or idea is smooth and effortless, exactly how you envisioned it.

20170407_162726-1_resized_1On social media, I only shared a picture of two sweet little crocheted slippers.  I did not show the first slipper with extra big loops, too big an opening on the bottom and the button sewn askew.   The final picture makes me look like I knew what I was doing.

Earlier today, I was reading about Greek Easter.  I was learning about their tradition of dyeing Easter eggs red.   Tomorrow is Holy Thursday and most Greek households will be dyeing their Easter eggs red to represent the blood of Christ and rebirth.Greek Easter

Friends learn about each other.  When a friend is sick, you learn everything you can cracking-easter-eggsabout said illness and try to help them heal through knowledge and wellness.

When friends are of a different religion you read up on it and try and learn everything you can.  You don’t necessarily want to switch your religious beliefs, you are just trying to be respectful of other lessons and customs.  That’s how we polish our skills of tolerance.  Friends aren’t ignorant about one another.  Friends take the time to respect others choices, learn & celebrate with them.

While Mr. Right & I observe Holy week as Methodist followers, we are open-minded to learn about and learn from other denominations.  Jewish temple oregon

Last weekend, Palm Sunday, we spent some time at a Jewish Temple. Learning and experiencing the grace of a different religion.

As Methodists, we color our eggs with pastel colors.  Soft pinks, pale greens, light yellow eggs show up so pretty in a basket of green Easter grass.

Today, to celebrate my friend and her family who happen to be Greek Orthodox, I decided to dye some Easter eggs red.  I wanted to share a glorious blog post about the perfect red eggs.  I wanted it to be reverent and holy.  I wanted it to symbolize the blood Christ shed for all of us, no matter what our religious preference.  Though some of our religious beliefs are different, we could still celebrate sameness.

beet dyed eggsNow, we have all used beets to dye eggs “red”.  While beets do color the eggs, not quite the brilliant red I was searching for.   The color is more of a 1970’s shade of mauve.

I didn’t want to drive to the store to purchase “special” red dye powder packets (created for Greek red Easter eggs) to get the red I wanted.   Heck, I have red food dye in the cupboard.  No, not the liquid cheap version.  I spent the extra money and a few years ago, bought the “professional” kit with lots of intense gel colors.   Yeah, that will work. 20170412_105405-1_resized

It did work, just not like I had hoped.

While the eggs are brilliant in color, it is not exactly the shade I was looking for.

I present to you my egg dying project for today.

At first,  I was slightly disappointed.  Not the reverent Holy red I was aiming to obtain.

Then a smile came over me.  Like it was meant to be.  

Not the brilliant red I was hoping to honor her and her religion with.

Not the soft pastel traditional egg color of my religion.

The most wonderful shade of friendship.

All our good parts mixed together.

Friends bring out the best colors in all of us.  Somehow I just know, she will be tickled pink to celebrate what we have.  20170412_105109-1_resized

Here’s to the color of friendship!

ps.  I typed this post with pink stained fingers.  haha  a symbol of true friendship!

 

 

 

easy fix

Yesterday while teaching a baking lesson the unthinkable happened.  I reached to get a box of brown sugar and discovered it was nearly empty.  GASP.  Oh no!  We NEED 1 cup!

My almost 11-year-old friend, was instantly sad.  We were in the process of gathering ingredients to make her Dad’s favorite molasses cookies.  Big ol’ sad face with huge sad eyes. (Can you imagine, this face being sad?  Oh dear.)20170328_120302-1_resized

Why don’t we just make some?

WHAT?

Make brown sugar?

um, yeah, that’s what people do.

I don’t know how to make it.

I do.

I will teach you.

Pencil ready?

Write this down:

 1 cup of white sugar + 1 Tablespoon molasses, mix = Brown Sugar. 

Done

Wait!!!! 

That’s it?

Yes, that’s it.

Chop, chop, Lollipop!

Let’s get that cookie dough made so we can chill it and make cookies for your Dad!

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