It's loud out there, folks.
Not "you dang hooligans turn down your music cause yer wakin' the neighborhood!" kind of racket. But it's loud with opinions & theories & the "always" & the "nevers" & the "shoulds."
The "should" of life could kill ya. At least, that's what my dad always says. And he is a wise one.
I find that this is the case more oft in some areas of life; for instance, food (what you should and shouldn't eat), exercise (always do this and never do that), and parenting (not that I have experienced this yet, but I've definitely seen some strong, judgey opinions!). I think we are past some areas, like what to wear and what not to wear-
What? You're telling me that someone cares if I'm wearing a flannel I bought few years ago?
Oh jeesh, I'm so passe . . .
I have seen it as a claiming of one's identity, in some cases.
"The whole purpose of places like Starbucks is for people with no decision-making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee. Short, tall, light, dark, caf, decaf, low-fat, non-fat, etc. So people who don't know what the hell they're doing or who on earth they are can, for only $2.95, get not just a cup of coffee but an absolutely defining sense of self: Tall. Decaf. Cappuccino." -Joe Fox, You've Got Mail
Maybe this isn't Starbucks. But in everyday life, we hear another's case for their theory, decide whether we want to end up on the path that person is on, and decide to take on that theory for ourselves, hoping & praying that we will become as awesome as we think they are. And there is always such a persuasive case, isn't there? Vegetarian, Atkins, South-Beach, all-grain, no grain, gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, raw, vega, raw-vegan, only what I have caught or grown, organic, all-natural, sugar-less, fruit-less, no red meat, all-red meat . . . !!!*
See what I mean? LOUD.
I'm not saying that those whole live by one of these diets is wrong-if you feel great, more power to ya! I have also tried many of these; some are great, some aren't. But I don't want to be preached at and take on someone else's opinion as identity just because.
That's my rant, & I'm stickin' to it.
*I know there are those who have allergies & restricted diets due to health problems, & please know that I am not chastising you!* :)
Also? Peanut Brittle. Yussssssssss . . .
In my crazy getting-ready-for-Thanksgiving menu planning madness, I thought peanut brittle completely appropriate. It reminds me of my childhood, of going to an amusement park and watching the grown-ups dressed in colonial period clothing stir a giant cauldron of a sticky, sugary, peanuty mass, then pouring it onto a large, chilled table. Soon after it was spread, it would be broken and passed out as samples to all the kids who eagerly had their noses and small hands pressed onto the railing.
Here we go!
First, boil that sugar goodness like it's nobody's business.
This part requires that you move quickly like a cheetah, so there are no pictures of me adding peanuts & nonsense. But here is the beauty all spread onto a lightly oiled baking sheet.
So yum! The first batch (pictured above) is a cinnamon peanut brittle. The second batch I decided to make a classic brittle, but cover half of it with chocolate. Duh.
So here's to the kicking off of the holiday season. May it be merry, bright, cheerful, joyful, grateful, generous, peace-giving, and Christ-centered. Cinnamon Peanut Brittle
1/2 cup water
2 cups sugar
1 cup light corn syrup
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups roasted salted peanuts
1 teaspoon baking soda
Combine the water, sugar, cream of tartar and corn syrup in a medium-size heavy saucepan fitted with a candy thermometer. Bring to a boil over medium heat. After it boils, stir the mixture occasionally. Boil the mixture until it reaches 320 degrees F. The color should be deep golden brown. Remove from the heat and, working quickly, stir in the cinnamon with a wooden spoon. Stir in the butter until melted, then the peanuts and baking soda.
Pour the mixture onto the oiled cookie sheet with sides and spread it out a bit with the back of a wooden spoon, to about 1/4-inch thickness (it may not fill the whole pan). Let harden, uncovered, in a cool place, 30 to 45 minutes. (To wash the saucepan, soak it overnight.)
Using your hands, break the brittle into pieces. Store in an airtight container.
Source: adapted from Food NetworkClassic Peanut Brittle
2 c. shelled raw peanuts
2 c. sugar
1 c. light corn syrup
1/3 c. water
2 T. butter
1/4 t. salt
1 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla
Spread nuts in a 15x10 pan, bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, stirring once - set aside.
Combine next five ingredients in a dutch oven, cook over medium heat stirring constantly, until sugar dissolves. Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until it reaches hard crack stage (300 degrees). Remove from heat. Stir in nuts, soda and vanilla. Working rapidly, spread mixture onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. To make chocolate brittle, spread 6 oz. chocolate on the brittle while still hot and then spread when the chocolate melts (I spread 6 oz. onto half of the brittle). Let cool. Break into pieces.
Listening to: Blake Shelton's Christmas
Cinnamon is for lovers. Really.
It's the early morn, and you happen to be walking the streets of a foggy, sleepy little town. Hands shoved deep into pockets, you stroll and saunter, determined to find a hole in the wall worthy of your patronage. Before you even see the ruddy, warm light streaming from the cafe ahead, you can smell cinnamon. Warm, inviting, homey. Quickening your step, you wander into what seems to be a local bakery, and there are fresh cinnamon buns just coming out of the oven. Your heart smiles; this was what you were searching for. You take two to go, and smile warmly at the grandmotherly figure who hands them over to you with a "Have a good day, sonny." One hand shoved back into your pocket, you walk at a quicker pace, excited to get back to your hotel, where your spouse is surely starting to stir and wake. You want the reason they wake to be the smell of cinnamon wafting into the room, and you can't wait to share. The fog is taking on a brighter color as the sun begins to rise, and even though it is still early morning, you are already content with whatever happens throughout the rest of the day because in your mind, it has already been a success.
See, I told you. Lo-vers.
You can never have too many cinnamon roll recipes in your arsenal, and this recipe is crazy easy, delicate, and scrumptious.
Can I be honest? I was in the midst of the cinnamon roll ritual-rolling the dough, spreading the butter, sprinkling handfuls of brown sugar, rolling it up, slicing . . . ya, that's right. I forgot the cinnamon. For the cinnamon rolls. I wasn't sure if I should keep it to myself as a secret shame, or voice my short comings to friends so I could get it off my chest and move on. Laughing at yourself and moving on is always the better option, by the way.
Cinnamon rolls are so forgiving, I think. Just like lovers, in a way.
Let me esplain.
When you have finished your cinnamon roll ritual properly, and your rolls are sliced and ready to bake, they aren't always perfect looking (see above). A lot of the time, your cinnamon and sugar spreading abilities are quite uneven, some of the dough may be just a tiny bit thicker in some areas, and some just look downright like duds. But after they're baked? They have risen and turned a heavenly shade of gold. Some of the centers have risen higher than others, creating what looks like delicious, uneven mountains. The sugars have married the cinnamon and melted into the dough, creating a glaze that can only be described by "yum." In a word, they are delightful, pretty, and perfect.
So, like lovers, they have their ups & downs. There are always a couple of expectations in the beginning of what you think things "should" be, and you survey what each of you are bringing to the table: two imperfect people. There are mistakes made by both parties, and sometimes things aren't what you expected. But then you realize the commitment each of you have made to each other, and you realize what a blessing each of you have in the other person. You take those imperfections, those misunderstandings, those hurts, those things that come between you, and you toss it in the compost pile. You don't come back to that compost pile, revisit the wrongs, and hold things against each other; you move on. You then see each other with new eyes, and you see your love as the great thing that it is and was meant to be. Your forgiveness of each other (and, quite frequently, yourself) allows you to become what you were called to be.
Apparently your love was meant to be a delicious cinnamon roll. Win.
***Editor's Note: I MADE A MISTAKE!!! I unknowingly posted a recipe that was meant to be kept between family & friends-I am so sorry! I have replaced the recipe with another one of my favorites, but kept the photos the same. Please enjoy-these are also delish!!!***
Cinnabon™ Knock-off Cinnamon Rolls
makes 12 rolls
For the dough:
1 pkg. active dry yeast (1/4 oz. size or 2 1/4 tsp.)
1 cup warm milk (105º to 110º F.)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 tsp. salt
4 cups all-purpose flour
For the filling:
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
For the icing:
1/4 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
1/4 cup (2 oz.) cream cheese at room temperature
1 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 tablespoon whole milk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
Prepare the dough:
Dissolve the yeast in the warm milk in a large bowl.
Mix together the sugar, butter, salt & eggs. Add flour and milk and mix well
Knead the dough into a large ball, using your hands lightly dusted with flour. Put in a bowl, cover, and let rise in a warm place about an hour or until the dough has doubled in size.
Roll the dough out on a lightly floured surface. Roll the dough flat until it is approximately 21 inches long and 16 inches wide. It should be about ¼ inch thick.
Preheat oven to 400º F and position a rack in the middle.
Prepare the filling:
combine the brown sugar and cinnamon in a bowl. Spread the softened butter evenly over the surface of the dough, and then sprinkle the cinnamon-sugar evenly over the surface.
Form the rolls:
Working carefully from the top (a 21 inch side), roll the dough down to the bottom edge.
Cut the rolled dough into 1 ¾ inch slices and place 6 at a time, evenly spaced, in a lightly greased baking pan. Let the rolls rise again until doubled in size (about 30 min.). Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden on top.
Prepare the icing:
While the rolls bake, mix the butter and cream cheese in a large bowl with an electric mixer on high speed. Add the powdered sugar and mix on low speed until the sugar is incorporated, then add the milk and flavorings. Mix on high speed again until the icing is smooth and fluffy.
When the rolls come out of the oven, let them cool for about 10 minutes, then coat generously with the icing.
The rain is here. But really, I've welcomed it with open arms. October has given us such a glorious fall! Really, it is unheard of to have the weather we have been blessed with the past few months. For the summer and fall, Squamish has had 25% of the normal recorded rainfall. What?! We have been able to thoroughly enjoy the vibrant trees as they change from a forest to a canopy of gold and scarlet. And now, as the rain drops race down my front window, I welcome it. We need the rain, and we had our time of sun. It's officially a time of hunkering down inside, reading & knitting, and cultivating the soul.
And baking, creating, cooking, & developing. Duh.
There are so many delicious recipes floating around the interwebs these days! I have a few favorites from the past year, as well as delicious recipes from fellow bloggers!
Can't wait to share more with you folks- there are delicious things in the works! Thanks for being my pals. You're great!
So October is here! Wait, what? I'm not sure what happened, but one week it was gorgeous and sunny and the next it turned to rain-city and the town was busting out their waterproofs. But can I tell you a secret? No matter how much I loathed the rain this past spring and was ready for sun, I'm kinda diggin' the chill. I have, however, come to the conclusion that I need to cave and add some essentials to my wardrobe. Last winter I broke down and bought waterproof snow boots. This year? I've bought some yoga-type leggings (super warm & comfy!) and a proper winter jacket. Figuring out how to live in the PNW (ahem, Pacific North West) has been such a great challenge for me. And really, I think I am turning into a PNW gal. Can't help but adore these mountains, the beauty, & the air here. I have been guilty in the past for judging people who wear active wear when they don't need it, because frankly, I have known people who wear it just to show off the fact they do, indeed, go on adventures occasionally. However, here it's a necessity if you want to leave the house. So I'm sorry if I ever judged you for bundling up properly. Come over to my house and I'll make you these pumpkin pie bars to make it up to you.
I made these for a girls' night that was complete with hot tea, munchies, & really good conversation. I have a few friends who have special diets for health reasons, & I don't want them to miss out on any of the fun or deliciousness! Making a dish that is gf, sugar-free, & mostly dairy-free makes it a) suitable for everyone, b) a health food, & c) breakfast. I actually love challenging myself to be creative & not rely on creaming butter & sugar & adding flour to make something delicious (although, there is so a time & a place for that!).
Dates & almonds are part of the crowd in this delicious crust.
Pulsed in a food processor & pressed into a 8x8.
Pumpkin. The first of the season gets me giddy! & it smells sodanggood.
Also, I didn't include any pictures of the creamy pumpkin filling, because really, it always taste good & never looks appetizing. I thought I would spare you and skip to the good part.
The nutty, cinnamon crumble on top is always the good part . . . amiright?!
It's pumpkin season. Don't fight it. Get into it!Pumpkin Pie Bars (gf, sugar-free, & almost dairy-free)
makes one 8x8 panfor the crust:
1 1/2 c. almonds (I used raw unsalted, but you can probably use whatever you have handy)
1 c. dates, pitted
1/4 c. maple syrup
1/2 c. brown rice flour
1/4 c. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
1/2 tsp. sea salt (use less if your almonds are salted)
1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground gingerfor the filling:
1 1/4 c. pumpkin (I used canned, but if you want to get fancy & roast your own, go for it! mad props for your obvious skills)
3/4 c. cashews, soaked*
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
pinch of sea salt*I boiled a few cups of water, poured the boiling water over the cashews in a bowl, and let them sit for 20 minutes to soften up. for the crumble topping*:
2/3 c. almonds
1/3 c. dates, pitted
1/4 brown rice flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
2 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into small cubes
pinch sea salt
maple syrup for drizzling* I have also made this step joined with the crust step, then simply set aside what I need for the topping. Just don't forget to set some aside if you do this! You'll be sorry. P.S. That's not a threat. I just don't want to see you sad.
To make the crust:
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
In the bowl of a food processor, pulse & process the almonds and the dates until finely ground, but not to a powder. You will want some texture in there! Dump into a bowl, & add the cubes of butter. Mix with a pastry cutter or quickly with your fingers. You don't want the butter to get melty. Add the maple syrup & distribute evenly. Add the brown rice flour, sea salt, cinnamon, & ground ginger until evenly distributed. Dump into an 8x8 baking dish and press firmly with your fingers until the crust is even. Place in oven and bake for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile, we are going to make some cashew cream! Wipe out your food processor with a paper towel, then add your cashews with a couple/few tablespoons of their soaking water. Add a couple, process, then see how much more water you need to add, & add it by the tablespoon. You will have a creamy texture very similar to whipped cream cheese. Once that is done, add to a bowl with the rest of your filling ingredients and whisk away!
Once your crust is out of the oven, pour your filling mixture onto your crust. Add your crumble topping. Place back into the oven for 25-30 minutes, or until it won't jiggle in the middle. Once it is done, remove from the oven & drizzle some maple syrup on top. Let set for about 30 minutes before serving.
To store, wrap in an airtight container & keep in the fridge for up to 4 days.
It won't last that long. Trust.
Inspiration: Deliciously Ella
, Joy the Baker
, my friends, & autumn.
Listening to: rain.
So, I had a bit of a birthday last week. I guess it wasn't a bit of a birthday, it was a real birthday, where I turned a year older and everything. Honestly? It was the first year in a few that I felt younger. You know the usual routine for birthdays in your 20s: you realize your childhood and adolescence are long gone, and you are closer to your 30s, which, in kid terms, is way
old. But this year, there was none of that. I have felt lately that there are so many possibilities for the future that I am stoked to explore! Maybe it because I've moved from the Midwest, where it seems to me that there is expectation or some sort of pressure to get married and making babies ASAP. Start your career ASAP. Figure out all your goals and passions and dreams in life ASAP. Because if you don't, you are falling behind somehow, or not enough, or not "doing it right." Maybe this is a real thing that other people have felt, maybe it's all in my head. And I don't mean to generalize every person in the Midwest; I am just communicating my experience. Moving out to Squamish and living on the West Coast, I have been immersed in an amazing group of people that I have happily adopted as family. Some young marrieds same age as Matt & I, loads in their 30s, just having their first kids/twins (there is something in the water here that makes people have twins-it's crazy!
), and a handful of parent and grandparent type that I just adore. This intensely loving community are people that have been so supportive of where I am in life, and the dreams and passions that drive us towards our next crazy adventure together. I am blessed to live in such a place.
All that being said, I made a list! 26 things to do before I turn 27 years old. Some are super attainable, some are goals that I would love to simply get a start on. Then who knows! With that being said, in no particular order, here we go! 26 Before 27: 1. Take a food photography course.2. Dance to the song "My Girl" by The Temptations. 3. Bake a proper loaf of artisan bread. 4. Learn to cross-country ski. 5. Camp out in BC under the stars. 6. Take a blogger e-course. 7. Find a way to make money writing & developing, and pursue it whole-heartedly. 8. Do "The Artist's Way" three-month program. 9. Do a Vancouver coffee crawl.10. Make cookies for all of our neighbors. 11. Run a half-marathon. 12. Knit an afghan. 13. Bake my way through the Joy the Baker cookbook. 14. Get into a body I really, really love without losing good food or abundant life. 15. Learn to sail. 16. Redesign & makeover my website. 17. Write & develop a cookbook. 18. Figure out the process of getting a publisher, & get published! 19. Host a dinner party. 20. Road trip down the West Coast & get at least as far as San Francisco. 21. See Hannah, Lindsey, Sandra, Ding, & Amy (my besties, ladies I lived in Scotland with, who are currently peppered across the globe). Somehow, someway. 22. Read a book a month for fun (novel, biography, etc). 23. Understand hockey. 24. Hug Joy Wilson & tell her thanks for being awesome and an inspiration. 25. Be a wife who can love deeper, serve more selflessly, forgive quicker, pray more, pray more consistently, challenge in a healthy way, & be the woman I was created to be to benefit my husband. 26. Be faithful in my prayer journal. 27. Learn how to perfectly poach an egg.
So, there you have it! I know I will learn many things that aren't on this list, and I probably won't complete everything, but I never want to stop dreaming! What sort of goals or aspirations do you have?
oh! this is my new camera, Priscilla. isn't she gorgeous??? we are pretty pleased with her. :)
Thanks for listening, friends. Y'all are the best. xx
I had a great idea for these bad boys. Thursday was slightly cloudy, a bit windy, and the kind of day that beckons people outdoors for a picnic. PICNIC TIME!!! Lofty expectations for a September day in Squamish.
I wanted to assemble the giant, baguette-sized sandwich, pack a kale salad in a mason jar (maybe border-line hipster? no judgement), pack up our flannel sleeping bag, & set out a romantic dinner on the marina docks, sailboat and the Chief in the background. We would drink bourbon from a thermos, the wind wouldn't blow our set up into the bay, and we would laugh at every one of the other's jokes. It would be perfect.
No pressure, sandwich, but you've got a grand scenario to live up to. Be cool.
Marinate the pork. Ginger & garlic.
Real life? Matt got off work an hour & half later than expected (restaurant life-what can ya do?), it had started severely sprinkling, and neither of us felt too hot.
carrots. turnip. julienne peeler.
So after my grandeur dreams of a spontaneous, fun-filled, highly romantic night, we ate dinner in our comfy clothes, rain pounding the roof by this point, & watching "Community." We turned off our brains & didn't have to be "on." We just were, with each other, & it was perfect.
It was really tempting to be disappointed, even in my adult-brain I know I can't control the weather, schedules, or a sickness that is going around. I can't control anything, but when there are expectations put on a scenario or on people, it is so easy to become disappointed, discouraged, & disillusioned.
siracha mayo spread.
Not that we should set our expectations super low or refuse to dream big, but once we put pressure on ourselves to live up to the standard that we have created, and we tie up our identity in that outcome, that's when we are screwed. That's when we inevitably aren't going to be enough.
ginger garlic pork, & bread with pate in the background.
It's a delicate balance, the land between not expecting a lot, and pushing yourself and others around you to be everything they could be and more.
cucumbers & cilantro.
Maybe part of it is about taking everything a bit at a time. When you bite off more than you can handle, everything becomes overwhelming and more than slightly out of control. You're on edge, and nothing is ever as good as you want it to be. You breed discontentment. Knowing yourself, how much you can handle, and where your limit is are such important things to remember. Also knowing that you have to reevaluate yourself in different seasons and chapters, because you are going to change and grow. That's just what happens in life.
his & hers, with fried egg.
So there you have it. Sandwiches, and an evaluation of where we are, how much we can handle, and just how much we are not in control. Taking a day at a time, and loving each day as it comes. Banh-Mi.
serves 4 (or 3, or 2 with leftovers!)for the pork marinade:
1/4 cup Bragg's liquid soy seasoning (or soy sauce)
2 tablespoons fish sauce
one 2 inch piece of ginger, peeled & minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 medium yellow onion, minced
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
3/4 pound pork tenderloin, cut crosswise into 1/2 inch wide piecesfor the pickled vegetables:
3/4 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 cup julienned carrots
1 cup julienned turnipfor the sandwich:
1 french baguette
1/3 cup mayo (veganaise or greek yogurt is also acceptable)
2 teaspoons sriracha
6 oz. store bought pork pâté, thinly sliced
1/3 English cucumber, cut into thin spears
10 cilantro sprigs
fried egg (totally optional)
Combine all marinade ingredient in a medium bowl. Add the pork tenderloin, stir to coat evenly and let marinate for 30 minutes.
To make the pickled vegetables, bring the vinegar, water, sugar, and salt to a boil in a small saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the carrots and turnip, remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature.
Preheat grill or grill pan over high heat. Grill the pork, turning once, until meat reaches 140F, about 3-4 minutes. Remove the pork from grill/grill pan let rest for 5 minutes, and thinly slice.
Preheat the broiler with the rack in the upper third position. Halve the baguette lengthwise. Place cut side up directly on the oven rack and broil until toasted and brown around the edges, 1-2 minutes. Remove from the oven.
Combine the mayo and sriracha in a small bowl, then spread evenly across the bottom of the baguette. Top with pâté, pork, cucumber spears, pickled carrots & daikon, cilantro & fried egg, if that's your dig. Close the sandwich, cut into portions & serve.
Source: adapted from Shutterbean
Listening to: Community
These granola bars are dang-near perfect. Well, maybe not really perfect perfect. Not the kind of perfect when a total stranger in the line behind you at the coffee shop finishes your sentence and that's how you discover you are soul mates. Not the kind of perfect where the clouds roll away and the sun appears the moment you step outside for a run. Not even the kind of perfect where you go into the grocery store for one item, find that item in abundance, discover it's 75% off. and stock half of your cabinets with them.
They are, however, the kind of perfect that you need when your body starts to crave a lovely, sweet, earthiness, you need a morning pick-me-up, and you are trying to take care of your bod; the moment you remember you have a stack of these tasties in your cupboard on your way out the door. That's a dang-near perfect morning moment, and I want to share it with you friends.
I have the privilege to write for a community paper that has been born out of the Ozarks called The Bare Hand Collective
. It is a monthly collection of creative souls that are collaborating and sharing what is on their minds and hearts, and bringing that to the community. They have the September edition available online here
Why am I telling you this? Well, if you take a peek-a-roo at pages 15 & 16 of the paper, that's where you'll find the article & the recipe for the granola bars!
i am proud & excited to share links to the BHC here on my website. They are dear, talented friends, & I am stoked to see where thjs adventure takes them! I will be sharing more BHC articles in the future, so stay tuned!
Here are a few last-minute round up pics of my vacation with husband & parents. Such treasured time & treasured people.
I feel like this pose is kind of our jam right now.
plums & blackberries at the bread lady's house.
this is what it looks like to face your fears.
I really, really hate gnomes.
vineyard at salt spring winery.
these colorful hives of bees are things that i want to own someday.
one of my favorite things about the island are these stands. some are full of fresh vegetables, ripe fruit, or farm fresh eggs. leave your money in the jar, take what you need. the sense of community & trust on the island is admirable.
the heather ale is IT. so good.
also, the subway tile in their lil tasting room is beautiful.
from the top of mt. maxwell. i am blessed to live around such a breathtaking place.
farmer's market. bright flowers, color-strewn heimloom tomatoes, &
locally roasted aeropress coffee.
because sometimes, life is perfect.
Thanks for sticking around for a few favorite photos! I'll be back soon to share something crazy delicious with you guys. Because, you know, you're great.
Listening to: The Lumineers
Happy belated Labour Day weekend, folks! I assume you had a great holiday, because let's face it, you guys are all partay animals, am I right? No? You're the kind of person who works on Labour Day, comes home to play in your garden because it's the last sunny day, & enjoys dinner with your significant other while re-watching an episode of "Pushing Daisies"? Of course you are; this is why we are friends and you understand my heart.
Whatever your holiday consisted of, party or no party, I hope you enjoyed yourself fully.
Speaking of holidays, I would like to tell you more about my past holiday (did you see that seamless segue?)! Also, I had to google how to spell "segue" cause I tried to spell it "segway." Turns out? Not the same thing. Go figure.
packaging goat cheese. these have basil leaves laid down in the bottom, then olive oil, then goat cheese before they are sealed. be still my heart.
goat cheeses topped with red chili jam, olive tapenade, truffle, lemon, herb . . .
oh be still my heart.
tasting bar. basil infused was one of my favorites, & i you couldn't tear me away from the champagne rose jelly. I spent way too much time in front of that table. don't judge- you would've be there right alongside me. so. good.
chocolate & toffee goat milk ice cream. yes please. every time. every day.
If you are making a trip up to BC anytime soon, and have the opportunity to ferry over to Salt Spring Island, I highly suggest you look up Salt Spring Island Cheese Company
. One of my favorite places on that island.
I know what you're thinking . . . "Oh, these pictures are so delightful! And now you're going to share you're favorite recipe using goat cheese, right?"
Here is where I bring you kombucha.
Family vacation -> kombucha. No segue. Just an ADD subject change.
Some of you may think kombucha is simply an overpriced drink in the supermarkets ($4.50 a bottle on sale-no thanks!). To others, it might be a weird drink you heard your friend telling you about, & they throw around the terms "mother" & "babies" and you're not sure if she's still talking about fermented tea or puppies.
Fact time? Kombucha is an effervescent fermentation of sweetened tea, & is known for its health benefits, such as detoxification, joint care, aiding digestion & gut health, & boosting immune system (source
). I am in need of all of those, & I had aforementioned friend that was talking about her "mother," so she gave me a tutorial & showed me how to make my own batch. Thanks, Emily
Brewed tea, sugar, & the mother, covered with a breathable filter, and set in a warm place for 10 days. Ok, it's mother time.
A mother is a symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast (also affectionately called a SCOBY).
Oh, you want a closer look at the mother? Ok.
I know, it looks like a jellyfish. Truth be told, it feels like what I think a jellyfish would feel like. Keep plugging away, because now it's time to bottle! Remove the mother after the 10 days, and place in a glass, sealable container. Refrigerate.
There may be/ definitely will be several floaties in your kombucha, which is totally normal. You will want to strain these guys out before you bottle, and a cheap'o strainer will do the trick.
Picture taking and carefully filling bottles don't mix, so use your imagination. Oh, and make sure your bottles are sanitized properly with sani & hot water.
Once bottled, set in the same warm place for 5-12, depending on the level of fizziness & sweetness you prefer. The longer it sits & ferments, the more sugar it is eating and essentially turning to a fizzier, vinegary taste (it doesn't taste like vinegar, I promise!). I like my kombucha less sweet & super fizzy, so I left it out 12 days before putting the bottles in the fridge.
Ok, I think you're ready! Kombucha is so refreshing & fizzy & delightful; I hope you join me on this weird drink adventure.
large glass jar (about 5 liters)
bowl with spout or large measuring cup with spout
3 black tea bags
1 cup sugar
4 liters water
Bring a liter of unfiltered water to a boil, then pour water into jar. Place the tea bags in the jar. Let brew for 7-10 minutes. Remove tea bags, & add 1 cup sugar (remember, the sugar is going to be eaten and aids fermentation, so your drink won't actually be this sweet!). Once the sugar is dissolved, stir in 3 more liters water. Cover with a cloth/cheese cloth/coffee filter and fasten with a rubber band. Let sit in a warm place for 10 days.
Remove the mother after the 10 days, and place in a glass, sealable container. Refrigerate.
Sanitize all your bottles with antibacterial soap & hot water (be sure that all the soap rinses out!). Pour the kombucha from the jar, through the strainer, and into the bowl with the spout. When your spouted vessel is full, you can pour it into your bottles. You will want to leave a bit of room at the top of the bottles for fermentation to take place, and no one wants exploding bottles all over their floor, am I right? Once the kombucha is evenly distributed, seal the bottles and place in warm spot 5-12 days. After 12 days, store in fridge.
--->Warning! When opening kombucha, be smart. It acts like champagne, so don't hold it over your face, or you are going to get a bottle top in the face and possibly lose your eyeball. <---
Enjoy! If you have made kombucha before, or this is your first time, leave a comment below or on facebook telling your story!
Source: dear friend Emily
Listening to: a recording of my dad playing piano
This is a beautiful salad. But now that you have it in your brain, let's pause & rewind. It's parent time! My parents have been visiting from MO for the past two & a half weeks, and it's been such a delight and a blessing to have them around.
You guys, we had so many adventures together!
Grandville Island . . . market. Amazing.
Those cherries on the end came home with me & made their way into this salad I'm about to share with you. You're welcome.
Flirty parents that make me smile.
ALSO!!! I'd like to welcome a new member of our family, Canon T3i, affectionately named Priscilla. I bought her when my parents were here, and have loved getting to know her and play with her! No more shooting pictures for you folks with the iPhone-this is the good stuff!
I'm going to dedicate separate posts to parts of our vacation soon (promise!), but right now I'd like to go back and focus on the matter at hand: this salad.
I don't remember the last time I made couscous and had to read the back of the box three times before I started boiling the water. Turns out it's as easy as pie, but actually way easier.
Begin with fruit.
A dear friend once told me that life isn't exactly always a bowl of cherries, but it's not a bowl of pits either. I have to tell myself that from time to time.
Beautiful mess of feta.
Zest of a lemon & feta are crumbled into cooked couscous.
Toasted pumpkin seeds are part of this adventure.
I've been doing quite a bit more living standing on the tops of chairs. This is my life. I don't mind.
Chopped kale gets added, and the salad gets tossed into a mess and chilled. Look at those colors!
This salad was shared at a rainy bonfire with friends. It's flavor is light and refreshing, refusing the end of summer with a punch of flavor. Lemon tang & cherry sweet, with a tender crunch from the pumpkin seeds. This is how to wrap up a season well. Cherry, Feta, & Kale Couscous Salad
1 1/2 c. couscous
3 c. water
1/2 tsp. salt
4 Tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
1/4 small red onion, very finely minced
juice of one lemon
zest of one lemon
1/2 c. feta, crumbled
1 c. cherries, pitted & cut into small chunks (1/4ths or 1/8ths will do
1/2 c. toasted pumpkin seeds
4-5 (depending on the size & your preference) leaves of kale, rinsed & chopped
Bring water to a boil. Season water with a good pinch of salt and add dried couscous. Cook until couscous is tender through, about 12 minutes. Drain couscous from water (there may only be a bit of water remaining), and rinse couscous in cool water. Pour into a medium bowl.
Zest the lemon & set zest aside. Cut the lemon in half and squeeze the juice over the couscous, being sure not to pop any lemon seeds into the salad. Drizzle the olive oil, toss in the onion, and season lightly with salt & pepper. Stir to combine, and taste test for good measure. Add the lemon zest & feta cheese. Lastly, add the toasted pumpkin seeds, cherries, & kale. Stir to combine, and again season to taste. Chill until ready to serve.
) in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Source: loosely inspired by Joy the Baker
Listening to: The Civil Wars
(new album, y'all!
Can I be honest about this? It's just you an me and a brownie (well, two brownies . . . one for each . . . I'm not sharing a brownie, cause that's ridiculous). Ok, I have this writer's block thing. Maybe it's more of an impatience thing. I sit down and I expect all the inner banter of the earlier part of the day to return to me. I told it to pause, and it just left. Jerk banter-never liked you anyway . . .
I think style of inner monologue also is aided by listening to Tina Fey's "Bossypants" on audiobook the first part of the day. Funny lady.
I wonder what other bloggers think the moment they sit down to write. Is it like every scene in "Julie & Julia," you know, how she just gets up extra early every morning and the creativity just spills out on the keys and captures millions of readers? Or do they clear their mind . . . no music, no tv, no distractions, just the words that need to bubble up from within. Or do they over-stimulated themselves (please don't go there with that-ok, you just did, twice), turning to whatever form of media or reading or conversation that will inspire them and create an acceptable piece of work? Sheesh guys . . . I don't have a clue. I'm just trying to make it over here.
And when I say make it, I mean make it.
Like . . . getting taken out on mini golf dates by my great, husband of a best friend.
Like . . . grow vegetables and constantly be stunned at the fact that they are actually growing.
Drinking afternoon shakes and running 5k-5miles, feeling faster everytime. Don't you just love when you know that you have to ability to do something? Practically speaking, I know I may not have to run like my life depended on it anytime soon, because the chances of a cheetah chase are rare in these parts, but knowing that my body can feels good. I don't ever want to be a person who questions if they have the ability to run. I just want to know I can. It's a fuzzy feeling.
ps- these are not the nast, processed, chalky things you get at the grocery store. I'll be sharing some of my favorite juices & shake recipes soon!
These guy will be here Friday . . . FRIDAY!!! I haven't seen these wonderful parents since our wedding, and I'm so looking forward to squeezing them and catching up on the past year.
But right now, I bring you another sweet treat. Again, I'm on the gluten-free, sugar-free & vegan bandwagon for right now, so no butter & sugar just yet. But YOU GUYS!!! These are just so it right now.
Chewy but not fudgy, with deep, decadent cocoa minus the sugar hangover. These are actually qualified as good for you
I told myself as I continued to reach for another. These are totally sharable and wonderful.
Magic I tell you . . . magic. Zucchini Brownies
1/2 cup all natural unsalted almond butter
1/4 cup maple syrup
1 medium grated apple (or 1/2 c unsweetened applesauce)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
3/4 cup gf oats
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups shredded zucchini
1/2 cup pecans, crumbled to desired size
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8×8 baking pan with nonstick cooking spray or line with parchment paper.
Place oats in blender or food processor and process until finely ground. Don’t worry, it doesn’t need to be perfect but it should take a couple minutes. I used a blade coffee grinder* and it worked well! *I purchased a grinder specifically for grinding flours, nuts, & seeds. If you use yours foe coffee, be sure to wipe out any oils or grounds. Or don't! Who doesn't love coffee brownies? :)
In a large bowl of electric mixer, cream together peanut butter, applesauce, honey and vanilla until smooth. Add in zucchini, cocoa powder, ground oats, baking soda, and salt; mix until well combined. Gently fold in 1/4 cup of pecans. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and sprinkle remaining pecans over the top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until tooth pick inserted into middle comes out almost
Cool brownies completely on wire rack then cut into squares. Enjoy!
Souce: adapted from: Ambitious Kitchen
Listening to: Bossypants, by Tina Fey