Thursday, March 29, 2012

Eating Seasonally with Spring Salads


Eating by the seasons is one of life's pleasures, I think.  Before you can get too tired of one thing, you're on to some fresh tastes.  With these warm, spring days, my thoughts are turning to raw foods.  Right now, I'm using wintry vegetables, which makes for a nice transition to more traditional summery salads.  I'm especially enjoying these two.

Kale Salad

1 tbs olive oil (more to drizzle, if you'd like)
1 tbs lemon juice
2 cloves fresh garlic, minced  (or 1/2 tsp powdered)
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbs pecorino romano or parmesan cheese, grated fresh
1 half-inch slice of French or sourdough bread, toasted until dry and crunchy (great use for stale bread)
2 cups of kale, washed and cut in 1/4 inch ribbons
ground pepper or crushed red pepper flakes (I like both) to taste

In a large bowl, whisk the olive oil and lemon juice with the garlic.  Add salt and a few grinds of black pepper &/or red pepper flakes.  Add half the cheese and mix until smooth.  Crumble the slice of toasted bread into small pieces and toss with the dressing.  Add the kale and remaining cheese and toss until all is evenly distributed.  Taste and add a little more lemon juice if desired.  This makes enough for one person, if eating as a meal.  I usually double or triple the recipe.  Enjoy!

Coronation Cauliflower

6 tbs mayonnaise
1 tsp ground coriander
1/2 cauliflower
splash lemon juice, optional
handful roasted almonds, chopped

Combine mayo and coriander in a medium bowl.  Trim cauliflower and finely chop into small, bite-sized pieces.  Toss chopped cauliflower in the dressing.  Taste and season, using the lemon juice for a more fresh taste.  Toss with almonds.  The recipe also calls for cilantro, which I leave out.  It also gives several variations.  This blog, stonesoup,  shares healthy, fresh food with mostly 5 ingredient recipes.  Worth checking out!

The kale recipe comes from this lovely blog, Tea & Cookies.  I see today's post is about nettles.  I've been noticing them sprouting forth in the garden, and thinking I need to harvest them.  Maybe this will be just the incentive I need.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Bloom and Fruit

Isn't it one of spring's pleasures to wander each day, checking on the gardens growth?  What new thing has poked through the soil... bloomed... set fruit? 

The fig and peach are loaded with fruit.  So early this year, but we'll hope for the best.
My friend Laura has initiated a Kickstarter project. She's a talented local potter on a mission.  We'll both be joining the folks at Whynot Pottery for Mud and Suds in the Yard on April 21st (10-5) & the 22st (11-4).  Save the date!  I've been wrapping soaps, and have several more batches, including a new spring soap, on the curing rack to wrap before the show.  Merry Monday, friends!


Friday, March 23, 2012

Trust


This past year has been a tough one.  I'm fairly frugal in nature, but this year has surely taxed my limits.  We've eaten from the garden and the pantry for the most part.  I'm so thankful I had put food up for uncertain times.   We've heated solely with wood, and in many little ways, we made do with what we had.  I've questioned my decision to retire from nursing, and several times have applied for positions, both nursing and non-nursing.  Nothing came of them, and each time something has happened to confirm I'm on the right path... a new soap account, a bit of work from the fab shop or a local pottery, my first custom embroidery job.  Though I would love to have big signs showing me the way through this, it has come down to trust. 

Most days, this is a beautifully peaceful life.  I don't want so much; just the means to pay my bills, support folks making beauty and doing good things in the world, the occasional secondhand treasure, a vacation now and then.  I do know I don't miss the demoralizing feeling of working for others who obviously don't value you.  And I know I am blessed in so very many ways.  So, I guess that brings me back to trusting that with hard work and creativity, we will come out the other side of this.  There is light ahead.  Guess I'll keep on walking towards it.

Monday, March 19, 2012

With the Help of the Wee Folk

The Leprechauns must have been watching over me on Saturday.  I went looking for four leaf clovers to put on the cake, and ended up finding 13 of them, along with a five leaf clover!  The cake was moist and delicious.  There was no regular Guinness stout in the grocery store, so I ended up using a local beer, Natty Greene's Old Town Brown Ale, instead.  Here's the recipe I used, from Simply Recipes:

Chocolate Guinness Cake

1 cup stout or porter beer, such as Guinness
10 tablespoons unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
1 1/2 cups superfine sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup sour cream
2 eggs
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cream cheese frosting recipe

As often happens, I tweaked a few things... used organic sugar for the superfine, the brown ale mentioned above for the Guinness, Hershey's Special Dark cocoa, and left out the salt as the butter was salted.

1. Preheat oven to 350 F degrees.  Grease a 8 or 9 inch springform pan with butter and line the bottom with a round of parchment paper.  (I waited until step 2 was done to preheat)

2. In a large saucepan, place the beer and butter.  Cook over medium-high heat until the butter has melted.  Add the cocoa powder and sugars and whisk together.  Take off heat and allow to come to room temperature.

3. In another bowl, beat together the sour cream, eggs and vanilla extract until very well combined.  Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together.

4.  In another bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda and salt. Add to the beer-butter mixture and whisk together until it just comes together.  Pour into the prepared pan and give the pan a few short drops onto the counter to release the air pockets in the batter to the surface.  Bake for 50-60 minutes.  Allow to cool on a wire rack.  Run a knife around the edge to separate the cake from the pan and pop the ring off the springform.

5. Spread the frosting on the cooled cake and serve.

Yield:  Makes one 8 or 9-inch cake.

I also fixed Colcannon for the first time.  This recipe, which was a hit.  I mean, really, how can you go wrong with homegrown potatoes, heavy cream and butter :o)  I hope your St. Patrick's Day was just as nice!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

A Bit of Green


Thanks to a very kind and generous Mary, I was able to sew up some fitting table runners and a little bunting for today.  Wishing you a St. Patrick's Day with a bit of green, a wee bit of blarney, and plenty of magic!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Bloom and Bee


As part of getting things in order lately, along with finishing my taxes (yay!) and setting up my facebook page, I added a link on the blog to Essential Depot.  They have been my source for lye ever since it stopped being carried in grocery stores.  Their customer service has always been excellent and their soapmaking line continues to grow.  They carry other supplies, including a line for biofuel makers, and have some pretty cool vintage lye booklets you can download for free.  To check them out, just click on the link at the bottom of the blog.






Spring blooms cheer me on my wanderings around the homestead.  The pollinators seem very happy that the plum and peaches are flowering.  It's so early, I expect a freeze may end up getting the blossoms before Spring truly arrives.   But for now, the honeybees and others are being fed.


The daffodils appear to be finished, except for these sweet miniature Tete-a Tete's under the plum tree.  The grape hyacinths are getting scarce, but there are some regular hyacinths in bloom.  What have you got blooming in your yard?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Sow and Sew


Daylight Savings Time is taking a little bit of adjustment, but it's nice having light so late in the day again.  I planted lots of containers for Wintersowing last week.  I had good luck with it last year, so thought I'd try another round.  Some plants were 2 lavenders, including an Alba, forget-me-nots, Hollyhocks Queeny Purple  and Summer Carnival Rosy Pink, and a hibiscus Joseph grew at his house.

The above pic was my first attempt at sewing burp cloths.  They were part of a gift I recently brought to a friend's baby shower.  I used a towel for one side, laid it face to face with a colorful cotton fabric and sewed around the edges, leaving about half of one of the short sides unsewn to be able to turn it inside out.  Once I turned it inside out, I topstitched around all the edges, then embellished with ribbons.  I thought they turned out well for a first try.  I forget the finished measurements.  They're folded in half for the picture.  Next up, I believe will be a table runner.

I know there are folks who read my blog who are not on my facebook, so thought I'd let you know I've been working on a new page, and would be delighted if you'd visit, and "like" me, if you're so inclined. https://www.facebook.com/#!/AbelaBodycare  Thank you kindly!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Golden


Hello friends!  I hope this week has been a good one for you.  This lovely little piece of art hangs near the main door where we come and go.  I love the way the morning light hits the gold leaf.  It was created by friend and fellow Lark Artist Cori Cagle

There were two absolutely beautiful videos posted by bloggers this week I feel compelled to share.  The first I had seen, but not in it's entirety, shared by the talented Margie from Resurrection Fern.  The second was a beautiful testament to aging with beauty, grace and flexibility, shared by the inspiring Heather from beauty that moves at the end of this post.  I hope this sends you off with inspiration for the coming weekend.  Make it a golden one!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Stickers and Sprouts

I hope your weekend was a good one.  We had a visit from Joseph's son and family.  Little S sure was creative with stickers :o)

Though the season is just about over, I wanted to share a recipe for Brussels sprouts.  My first few attempts at cooking them, many years ago, turned them into bitter little things.  These are tender and delicious.

Oven Roasted Garlic Brussels Sprouts

2 lb Brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved (quartered if large)
5 cloves garlic, minced fine or pressed through garlic press
1/2 cup water
2 tbs extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 black pepper

Place oven rack in upper third of oven and preheat to 425 degrees.

In a 9 x 13 inch baking dish, toss together Brussels sprouts, garlic, water, oil, salt and pepper and spread out in a single layer.

Bake for 40 minutes, tossing once about 25 minutes into cooking time.  Remove from oven and toss sprouts in the pan, scraping up brown bits into the sprouts.  I found the recipe here.