shaved brussel sprout, arugula, & quinoa salad

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“One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well.”
― Virginia Woolf, A Room of One’s Own

In this Tuesday’s Kitchen, I share a salad with many possibilities. You can mix up the greens, use your favorite dressing/vinaigrette, or add your favorite nuts. I first enjoyed this at a dear friend’s baby shower and the darling hostess graciously offered her ingredient list and gave me free reign. Enjoy the tang of arugula, the nutty crunch of the brussel sprouts, and the way these flavors mingle together in this light treat of a meal!

Fun facts that you can share at dinner parties or just feel smarter by knowing -
-Brussel sprouts are members of the cabbage family, come from Belgium, and contain potent anti-cancer chemicals, sulforaphane and propertiesindole-3-carbinol, which boost DNA repair in cells and help block growth in cancer cells.
-Quinoa is a species of “goosefoot”, a cousin to beetroots, spinach and tumbleweeds, and a superfood high in dietary fiber, phosphorus, magnesium, iron, and calcium, perfect for vegans and those who are gluten-free!

Shaved Brussel Sprout, Arugula, & Quinoa Salad
1 pound fresh brussel sprouts
1 cup fresh baby arugula (also known as rocket which is just fun to say)
1/2 cup almonds or pine nuts (yummy when toasted)
1/3 cup sun-dried tomatoes
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 bunch fresh asparagus
2 ounces feta or pecorino romano cheese (optional & delicious)

Holding brussel sprouts by stem end, slice very thinly with a sharp knife or shave with a mandolin or in a food processor. Toss in a bowl to separate the layers. Add arugula, nuts, tomatoes, quinoa, sliced asparagus and mix together. Add cheese if desired.

Vinaigrette
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
*also delicious with lemon juice & olive oil or Girard’s Champagne Dressing

Enjoy!!

tomato basil soup

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I have had many a tomato soup yet none have measured up to this tangy, rich, delicious, light, flavorful concoction.  I found the basis for this recipe in the incomparable Cynthia Lair’s Feeding the Whole Family, a book overflowing with information about feeding babies, young children and their parents whole foods in an easy and yummy way.

Notes:  Tomatoes are members of the nightshade family which are thought to affect calcium stores negatively so they are often served with calcium-rich dairy. Be sure to use full-fat sour cream or even full-fat greek yogurt in a pinch; any reduced-fat foods are not whole foods.  You may substitute vegetable stock for chicken stock for a slightly different taste, a bit too oniony for me.  Look for Muir Glen Fire-Roasted tomatoes for an extra dose of deliciousness as well.  In the summer, I love to use heirloom tomatoes grown in my mama’s garden!  Modify my version as you will, you may choose to add a chopped onion and saute it with the garlic or top your finished soup with fresh black pepper.  Both of those are many stages of “blech” to me, but like with any amazing recipe, you can make it your own!

Tomato Basil Soup

  • 2 Tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 5 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 14.5 ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon honey
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Heat oil and butter in a heavy pot over medium heat.  Add garlic and salt and stir for a minute or so without allowing the garlic to brown.  Add stock, tomatoes, and honey, and simmer for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to deepen and unite.

Cool soup slightly and place half of it in a blender with the sour cream.  Blend until smooth.  Transfer to another bowl or pot.  Blend the other half of the soup with the basil.  I don’t care for biting into the fresh basil leaves, so blending them into the soup adds a delicate green hue and a delightful zest.  Add this to the rest of the soup and reheat.

Serve with a nice loaf of sourdough.  I love to make crispy cheese toasts with a sharp white cheese topping a slice of bread, broiled to the point of golden bubbliness.  Dipping these lovelies in the soup takes it to a whole new level.

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homemade almond milk with a splash of vanilla

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Confession: I don’t particularly care for drinking almond milk straight; I find a sort of bitterness to it.  That is a work in progress.  But added to recipes such as pancakes or breads or smoothies in place of regular milk, I love it! Experiment with this recipe, straining more if needed, adjusting flavor with vanilla. Have fun with it.

  • 1 cup raw almonds (or any other raw nuts or seeds)
  • 3 cups filtered water

Soak almonds in water 10-12 hours.

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Blend* soaked almonds with three cups of filtered water until smooth.  If using the Blendtec, try the Whole Juice setting.

*My particular favorite blender is the Blendtec which is fantastic for everything from smoothies to soups to salad dressings and beyond.  I use mine at least twice a day and wholeheartedly recommend it!!  Pricey but you will never need another blender again.

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You will see bits of the pulverized almonds in the mix…it has such a comforting, wholesome look to it, like oatmeal.  Now pour the blended mix into a cheesecloth or nut milk bag (which I prefer as it has MUCH better straining and is very reusable) over a bowl or pitcher.

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Gather the cheesecloth or bag and gently squeeze the milk from the pulp.  It is silky smooth and very soft, again so comforting.  If using cheesecloth, you may have to double-strain depending on the amount of pulp you are comfortable with.  At this point, if you are adding the pure vanilla, you may gently whisk some in to taste.

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Sample your milk and see what tweaks you might need, pour into mason jars or other homey storage and keep chilled for up to 7-10 days.

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My favorite smoothie made with this almond milk and Juice Plus+ Complete Mix:

1/2 cup almond milk
1/2 cup filtered water
1 frozen banana*
generous handful of leafy greens..spinach, kale, chard, a mixture of them all…Tower Gardens are perfect for this**
1 teaspoon of my favorite almond butter
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
ice cubes depending on how icy you like your smoothies

Blend with your Blendtec until smooth and play with the ingredients as you’d like.  I would love to hear about your variations!!

*I love slicing up bananas and freezing them in ready-to-go bags for my smoothies…just do it on a grocery day and you are all set!  They make smoothies deliciously creamy and cold when frozen.
**Grow greens and so much more yourself with your very own Tower Garden!  Kiddos also have so much fun picking them…let me know if you are interested and I will set you up!

wild horse…not broken, just a little tamed

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i’ve been called a wild horse.  a yoga teacher likens my rapid-fire speech (insert any Anne Shirley of Green Gables monologue that you will and it applies), my unbridled passion for so very many things, my harried lack of schedule, my hastiness to jump into new adventures, and my mindless flitting from thought to thought to said “wild horse” and i am inclined to agree.

it certainly appeals to my love of the west, my dreams of galloping through prairies and mountains along the sea.  yet it touches upon a wildness that needs a bit of taming.  i crave simplicity and rhythm and peace and structure.  the open prairie and endless sea beckon but are fearsome in their infinite space and opportunity.

i need grounding more than i ever have.  my experience skiing last month awakened that need more so…the utter terror of (what felt like) hurtling at unstoppable speed down the tiniest of slopes juxtaposed to the bliss of STANDING on solid ground, moving only of my own accord.  i ached to dance, to stretch, to leap, to crouch, to arch, to walk, to stomp. to kick, to feel the earth beneath my bare feet.  yes, perhaps i would kick up my heels and even let out a whinny.

my mind is in a flurry.  i could list what’s swirling about but that’s not really the point.  the point is my mind is high above that grounding earth, prone to distractions, literally going which ever way the wind blows.

it’s not that i am particularly flighty; my passions and commitments do stand strong.  i just am wildly excited about so many things and so many possibilities.  those attempts at squeezing in too much goodness into too little time leads to perceptions of being scattered.  as bilbo baggins so eloquently put it, like butter over too much bread.

i don’t want to quench my fire and those that know me and can at least endure my exuberance understand that the fire is what makes me who i really am.  so, i will not be broken.  i will tame myself a bit, leading to better habits of self-care, prioritizing, saying no, following my instincts, and not falling prey to getting involved in things merely out of fear of missing out.

but the horizon beckons, new adventures, so much to learn and read and see and hear and taste and dance and write…i will gallop as i please, not out of fear, but out of love for who i am and what i am seeking.  i won’t stray too far or refuse to be reined in here and there.  i will, however, follow my wild horse spirit and live a life rich and full.

i hope you can be led to see who you are, without apologizing, yet aware of how you can be your best self.  not led by social cues or those who seek to break you, you can listen to the little gypsy wind and the call to your own truth, unconventional as it may seem.  listen, live, be a little wild.

waffles

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Not quite dessert, perfect as a snack, makes me hungry for more breakfast, & kind of amazing dinner, waffles fill a special spot in my food repertoire.  I am decidedly NOT a fan of belgian waffles that are crispy and light; I prefer cakey and soft waffles, much like a pancake with a few crispy, caramelized edges.  I continuously experiment with recipes for “plain” waffles, looking for variations that lend themselves to warming up for elevenses or with a spot of tea in the afternoon.  The ginger banana waffles are a childhood recipe that my own sweet mother made for me regularly, so there are sweet memories attached to these robust, unique treats.  Enjoy them both and let me know how you amend them for your own eating pleasure!

 

No Nonsense Waffles

These are delicious straight from the waffle iron and dry up quickly when refrigerated, so I recommend eating them fresh and piping hot or freezing them promptly once they are cool and toasting them up to your preferred toastiness at your leisure.  Add-ins such as chocolate bits, berries, bacon, cheese, coconut, nuts, or bananas might be your style – I like mine no nonsense.  And may I just add, I am an ardent follower of “faux” maple syrup.  It might be the shape of the log cabin bottle that hearkens to my fantasy of one day owning a real log cabin but I chalk it up to taste…I grew up with the maple flavored corn syrup and therefore, the real deal is way sickening sweet and quite off to me.  I use pure maple syrup when I make sweet glazed nuts (recipe to come) or salad dressings, but with my pancakes and waffles, it’s faux or no.

Whisk together:

  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1 Tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

Whisk together in a separate bowl:

  • 3 large eggs, well beaten
  • 8 Tablespoons butter (16 Tablespoons for crispier, more decadent waffles)
  • 1 1/2 cup whole milk

Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the wet ingredients.  Gently whisk them together with a few brisk strokes.  If you choose to an add-in, fold them in at this point.

Scoop 1/2 cup of batter onto your hot waffle iron and bake to your desired golden brownness.  Keep warm in a single layer on a rack of a 200 degree oven as you finish cooking the rest.

 

Ginger Banana Waffles

Whisk together:

  • 1 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ginger

Beat together:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 3 very ripe bananas
  • 3/4 cup whole milk
  • 1/4 cup melted butter

Gently fold together wet and dry ingredients.  Scoop 1/2 cup of batter onto very hot waffle iron.  I love when these are caramelized and crispy on the edges so I cook them at the highest setting.  Keep warm in a 200 degree oven while you finish cooking.  Once cool, these refrigerate for up to three days when well-wrapped or you may freeze immediately.  Toast them on a high setting to reheat and get a new caramelization on those edges…yummmm.  I love to dip these in a cup of whipped cream but my son loves them in syrup.  Fresh peaches tossed with a bit of sugar and nutmeg are also an amazing accompaniment!

Serve with fresh vanilla whipped cream:

  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 Tablespoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla

Whip together to desired consistency.

 

ode to snow…

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A “winter storm” just blew through my little town in southern California, prompting tornado warnings, home evacuations for many due to potential mudslides after last month’s fire, and incredibly laughable media coverage.  We certainly endured rivers in our streets here and there, gusts of wind, and sheets of rain, but nothing as was predicted (thankfully!), and certainly not like what the rest of the country has struggled through.

Cynthia Rylant is one of my favorite authors and her book, Snow, struck a chord with me, especially as so many deal with the realities of ceaseless snow, bitter chill, and winter weariness.

Rylant has such a way with words, conjuring images, emotions, and the simplest yet most poignant thoughts: “some snows fall only lightly, just enough to make you notice the delicate limbs of trees, the light falling from the lamppost, a sparrow’s small feet.”  She manages to highlight the beauty and joy of winter.

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And of course, this page…”and the snow, while it is here, reminds us of this: that nothing lasts forever except memories.”  When we venture to the mountains or Wisconsin and play in the snow as a family, I am often in a flurry to capture images of us all making snow angels, cocooned in winter gear, or just the flakes falling from the sky.  The trick is to just BE knowing that to truly enjoy, I must put down the camera and let the memories be what I am left to hold on to.

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“And while the snow is here this brief moment, let us take a walk and see how beautiful the world is…the snow is falling while the flowers sleep and the sun sleeps and the soft green gardens are waiting.  It is the snow’s turn now.”

Winter weary, many are struggling to embrace these moments that certainly don’t feel fleeting.  Spring feels distant.  But, I hope with a book like Snow and perhaps a quiet minute to jot down a few things one does appreciate about winter – a silent walk in the powder, snow dusting the trees, frost on the windows, a cozy fire or a hair-raising plunge down a slope (yes, even the smallest slope was hair-raising for me) – you will all find your “best snow…one that comes softly in the night, like a shy friend afraid to knock, so she thinks she’ll just wait in the yard until you see her.  This is the snow that brings you peace.”

love: bread, self, & sleep

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One day I found this sweet piece of love in my loaf of sourdough
bread.  It was ironic because my love of sourdough is lifelong; my parents used to have to grab two loaves on every shopping trip, one for the ride in the cart and one to take home.  It seemed so perfectly appropriate that it would give me a little love back.

These little glimpses of love are so necessary in a day, especially my days of late.  I have always been a night owl, feeling energized and excited by the setting of sun and the possibilities of what I could accomplish in a quiet sleeping house…a hot bath, losing myself in a book, scrubbing the kitchen, straightening up the day’s disarray, a tasty treat before bed.

The next morning I am exhausted, grumpy about the prospect of leaving my cozy sheets, and ridiculously sleepy by mid-morning. There is more to be said for my particular state of drowsiness at another time, but my inability to get myself to sleep at a reasonable time is the root of so much.

So, a little self-love is in order and with that a commitment to sleep and heal my weary bones a bit more. A Lenten promise perhaps? A new schedule to attune to? No matter what, it does come down to love. I can show greater love, embrace greater love, and notice love in those unexpected places like my bread when I love myself enough to get some sleep.