cooking, friends, friendship, garden, recipe

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.

 

 

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friend, garden, gardening, haPPY, Uncategorized

How does your garden grow?

20170602_074942-1_resized_1Mary, Mary………………My name is Daleen and I try not to be contrary (pigheaded, obstinate, defiant, unhelpful, difficult)

When a girlfriend comes to visit…………..don’t you just love to get out two mugs, pour cups of dark coffee, slosh in oodles of thick coconut cream and take them out back to wonder around the garden?  You hold the mug with two hands.  One to keep the chill at bay and two you have no hand to hold your phone.  It’s just you and your friend, meandering.

Come on, here, you might need this sweater.  It’s a bit cool out this morning and the rain is trying hard to do more than drizzle.

Raspberries, Grapes and Rosemary

 

Jasmine and Mint

 

Blueberries and   Yukon Gold Potatoes

 

Swiss Chard, Radishes, Pole Beans and Tomatoes

 

Fig tree, Cilantro and Chives

 

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Spinach

 

Let’s sit here under the Wisteria Covered Pergola and drink the rest of our coffee?

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Thanks for visiting my garden.  I loved chatting and meandering.

I would love to see what grows in your garden.

In this together, friends.

Happy Friday!

Chat soon.

 

 

 

crochet, friends, grandchildren, grateful, haPPY, Uncategorized

spirit lifting yarn

20170306_133222-1_resized_1While in line, to buy forgotten yellow yarn for a chicken beak, I spoke to the lady behind me.  (Wow, never thought I would type that sentence.  To be clear, the yarn for a chicken beak, not talking to a lady.)

In her arms, she juggled several rose, pale & hot pink skeins of yarn.  Draped over her arm was the beginning of a pink crocheted afghan.  I asked her what she was making.  She said her Great, Granddaughter wanted a pink, pink, pink blanket. So, how could she say no?

Grinning ear to ear, I told her I had two granddaughters & one grandson.  Then I shyly said, I am learning to crochet.  I asked her how long she has been crocheting and she smiled and said, “forever”.  Next, I asked her, who taught you?  She couldn’t remember, however everyone crocheted around her so it was probably lots of people.

Then she asked me, who taught you?  I said, You Tube.  (I had to explain briefly about the computer site You-Tube and taking lessons.)  She said learning the computer is way harder than learning to crochet.  She says she gets messages from her grandchildren on the computer everyday, so it was worth learning to use the darn thing.  haha

She made me feel like I am tied to a really good group.  People who have grands.  People who make things for others.  People who like to keep learning.  She lifted my spirits & offered encouragement.crochet lesson

My daughter in law, asked me to make a couple of hats for her friends’ preemie babies. Wow!  Pretty nice of her to think I could do that.  Did she forget I am a beginner?  I gotta tell ya, having someone think you are capable is pretty spirit lifting & encouraging. Then when you get to see a picture of the little tiny babies actually WEARING the hats I made……..well, that just elevated my spirits into the stratosphere!

A friend shared a picture of a crocheted apron with several pockets.  He thought of me collecting eggs and learning to crochet.  Simultaneously, the gesture made me giggle & happy.  His thinking was, hey, I bet she would get a kick out of this? egg apron (even though I have only collected one egg in ages and I have no idea if I could even crochet an apron)  I adore that he already thinks I can.  Lifted my spirits & offered a pocket full of encouragement.  (get it?  the pockets on an apron )

Never once did You-Tube mention that if you learn to crochet your spirits will be lifted and you find all kinds of encouragement.

20170220_103259-1_resized_1Yesterday, while opening the mail, out fell a card addressed to me.  yippee!  I carefully opened the envelope and what did I find?  The sweetest, photo card.  I had made a crocheted hat for a darling little girl in Pennsylvania.  (Her parents) She sent me the most adorable thank you card with a picture of her wearing the hat I made!!!  Pretty as a shiny new penny!  Gosh, my spirit soared and well, I am still walking on cloud 9.

Who knew learning to tie some yarn into different patterns of knots would encourage my spirit so much?

I guess the folks at You-Tube knew.

In this together friends,

Chat soon.

crafts, cross stitch, friends, Uncategorized

a good luck poke

The pincushion tomato was most likely introduced during the Victorian Era.  Folklore tomato-pin-cushionteaches us, that by placing a tomato on the mantel of a new house guaranteed prosperity and repelled evil spirits.  If tomatoes were out of season, families improvised by using a round ball of red fabric filled with sand or sawdust.  The good-luck symbol also served a practical purpose – a place to store pins.

20170102_213250-1_resizedI made this lavender pincushion in 1972.  I was 10 years old and this was my first project in my sewing 4H club. I am not sure the light purple blob has any good luck or not.  I can say, with certainly, it has kept all evil spirits away from my sewing basket for more than 40 years.

In theory it is a sweet idea, however, it doesn’t work. The pins don’t stay pushed in.   The material is double-knit, the filling feels like cotton batting, and it doesn’t have any weight to speak of. I made it using a canning jar lid and ring.

A pin cushion that doesn’t work, isn’t very useful.  However, I have kept it all these years because it makes me smile to remember the beginning.  It doesn’t work, but for some reason, it whet my appetite for more to come.

You all remember my 2017 goal of making a pin cushion for every sweet person I need a gift for?       https://sundayschildfullofgrace.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/poke/

You thought I was kidding?  No, not kidding.  I am on a mission to make  at least 12 pincushions this year.  Let me be clear:  pincushions that are equally pretty & useful. While I do wish for them to be keepsakes (and full of good luck), I honestly don’t want them20170102_213305_resized stuck in the bottom of someone’s sewing basket never to see the light of day.  It is my hope that the cushions will be poked over and over and over again.  I hope they are loved and used and become worn with happy use.

First pin cushion of 2017 is finished!!!!  She also comes with her own designer pins.

I made several pins last night.  I wanted to include something unique or pretty or charming to poke into each cushion. Some look like dragonflies, some have hearts, a few have stars, while the rest are glass stacked beads.

My first pin cushion this year,  is for a retirement gift.  The recipient is a crafter and does lovely work with beads.  I thought it might be the perfect small gift to offer up as a celebration.  I wanted to make something special.

I ask you, who among us wouldn’t want to receive a hand stitched cushion with our initial highlighted?

In addition to using buttons from my button jar, I stitched good karma, love, prayers, kindness and oodles of good luck into this piece.  I am sending it off into the world stuffed with pure goodness (also known in some circles as crushed walnut shells). I also included a loop for her scissors to be tied with a ribbon.

May this new year be a time of bathing others in small gifts of thoughtfulness.

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In this together, friends.

We could all use a little poke to remind us to be more thoughtful.

cooking, friends, friendship, garden, Uncategorized

5 star soup, 10 star chef

Ah, the soup. The flavors were spot on.  You could taste layer upon layer of flavor building.  It started with a well crafted vegetarian broth.  A sprig or two of rosemary, a couple stems of thyme and a few choice pieces of parsley, all freshly picked from the garden, added to the broth to simmer in the background for another hour or so.

Once the flavors developed in the broth & herbs removed, gorgeous chunks of zucchini, garlic and onion were added.  The heat was gently brought up to a simmer.  The vegetables were allowed to play together, absorb and share their glorious flavors.   As soon as the onion and zucchini were easy to pierce with a fork…. out came the immersion blender.  The chef did it on slow and took her time.  She made sure all the timber was blended well.  Next,  3 heaping spoonfuls of lush sour cream was added.  The immersion blender reappeared and was once again instrumental in producing a creamy soup, almost silky in texture.  You could see the steam rising. 20160802_122906-1_resized

The bowls were heated before the chef used a ladle to gently ease the subtle green colored liquid silk into each.

20160802_123013-1_resizedThe garnish was quickly, yet thoughtfully applied.  Grated Parmesan, freshly snipped chives, fresh, stunning green pea shoots,  a couple of garden fresh picked peas, a chive flower and a generous amount of fresh cracked pepper. 20160802_122833-1_resized

The offered bowl of soup was a feast for the eyes.

That first bite.  Eyes closed, the warm, creamy liquid did a slow dance in our mouths just a moment before it slid down our throats.  I just barely caught the slight salt of the cheese garnish and the bite of the fresh pepper.  The mingling of savory delights was a symphony of flavors any restaurateur would be more than proud to offer to their guests.

Well done.  5 star good.

Yes, that good.

A simple, elegant lunch, however I thought I could going on eating that delicious offering all afternoon. I knew I would remember that meal for some time.

Oh, did I mention the creator’s name?  I am proud to say my friend, Chef Natalie, age 10.

You read that correctly.  AGE 10.

Because of her parents, she is respectful, smart, thoughtful, curious and a hard worker. She is over the moon enthusiastic and eager to learn, as much as she can, as fast as she can.

20160802_094355-1_resizedI had the privilege of spending the day with her.  Somehow, just by working side by side, she elevates the game.  You bring your A game, because, well, quite honestly, she is watching your every move.

She is serious.  Oh sure, she has an infectious laugh, is quick-witted and asks purposeful questions.  Don’t for one moment, let your guard down and causally  think this is child’s play.  This is the real deal.  She listened to and wanted to learn how to use a Coco-Jack to open a young coconut.  She was listening to every single safety rule about how to use the immersion blender.  She was already comfortable with the Blend-Tec, food processor and Kitchen-Aid.

We tied our hair back, we put on fresh aprons, we wore closed toe shoes, we washed our hands again and again and again.  We tasted and then flipped the spoon around and used the handle to taste again.  We went through a drawer full of spoons and I folded 11 freshly laundered kitchen towels this morning.  We worked the day through. 20160802_121402-1_resized

She made a meal for her family. Eyes on the prize.  Serving her brother, Dad and Mom a meal she could be proud of.  She never once lost focus.  She is fierce and determined.  She served them an appetizer, a soup course, the main meal and a dessert to finish.

The day began for us with glorious smoothies using fresh young coconut and the water, strawberries, mango, spinach and lime.  Chefs need to be well nourished so they can concentrate on cooking well for others.

The days’ list unfolded like this:

Smoothies

Zucchini Soup

Chihuly Salad

Pot Stickers

Molasses Cookies

She picked & gathered green beans, tomatoes, radishes, herbs and a fresh egg. She learned about and started a batch of sprouts in the kitchen.

It was a full day of learning, giggling & oodles of fun.  It was the good kind of tired.  You know?  So tired from cooking all day, yet somehow re-energized with pure joy and enthusiasm to serve the meal to your family.

I was the sous chef.  I helped and washed dishes. I scrubbed carrots, beets and a pear.  I washed bok choy & spinach.   I sent pictures to mom and dad throughout the day. I got out fresh kitchen towels, different tools, appliances and kept things moving along our time line.

When she says “I made pot stickers”.  She really means, she chopped the ingredients, made the savory filling, learned to make dumplings and took 46 home to her family.  The chefs in the kitchen each got to cook and sample one.  Oh, be still my heart.  Lush, moist filling inside a plump, perfectly steamed dumpling wrapper. Oh yeah, she made pot stickers and a lovely sauce to serve alongside.

*Housekeeping note:  Because my friend is under 18, I asked for and received permission from her parents to share these pictures.

I wanted to write this post as sort of a thank you to my friend.  I loved spending the day together.  The day flew by and I can’t remember smiling as much as I did.    Then I got to thinking.  I wanted to share this because, it’s what many of us are looking for.

You know when we (grown up adults) all sigh and complain that we are not sure what our mission is, or what our calling is?

Maybe, just maybe our calling is to be the “sous chef”?  Maybe, our mission is to lift someone else up and help them stretch up on their tippy toes, while they stand on a kitchen stool to reach their potential?

May you be a “victim of Grace” as I was.  While washing dishes and gently reminding a young chef to keep their fingers curled under while using a mighty big knife…….may you be gobsmacked by the Grace and Goodness of a young person who is looking to you.

In this together friends, all covered and splattered with grace.

Bon Appetit.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

friends, grateful, vacation

vacation twice

20150718_112032-1The moment you pour that wonderful, aromatic cup of French press coffee, you take in a deep breath and look around for the perfect place to plop.  You spy & choose the cozy chair. The corner, stacked high with books and twinkle lights dancing above you, will be the ideal place to vacation, again.

You want to sit down and breathe and think back.  Think back to the best week you have had in ages.

I sift through photographs.  I like to print ours.  I like to shuffle them like a 20150712_212003deck of beautiful vacation cards.  Oh sure, I pin one up and I frame a couple.  I like to feel them and see them and shuffle them back and forth.

Actually, when you think about it, it is so lovely to relive your vacation time all over again.

One ticket stub reminds you of a stunning ferry ride.  bc ferry

One business card gently reminds you of the lovely, quiet, inspiring Needlework and button shop.

20150712_212848A pink and white checked paper sweetly reminds me of the Victoria Coffee Cream Chocolate we indulged in.

One printed flat paper bag, is a reminder of the well crafted handkerchiefs I bought for Mr. Right.

This past week, I found myself, reliving certain conversations.  Chuckling over something funny that was said or the warm feeling you get just being quiet as you experience a raw and powerful scene in nature.

When you choose to spend your “free” days with a very smart and sassy friend, you are somehow elevated to a new playing field.  You bring your “A” game.

The beautiful part about sitting and drinking a cup of joe and reliving pure goodness (besides the amazing coffee and your feet up)….you get to experience it twice.

Two vacations for the price of one.  Pretty sweet deal.