Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Out there

Near Crescent Bay

Last week we traveled to Washington's Olympic Peninsula. It's hard to describe the otherworldliness of this place. Sweeping vistas of the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Old-growth fairy forests of towering cedar, hemlock and fir. Wild flowers, green mosses and lacy ferns. Coastal tide pools revealing miniature worlds of marine life. Hidden waterfalls and secret coves. Come see..

Ships on the water...

A ship travels along the Strait of Juan de Fuca


Tall trees..


Sentinels


In a coastal forest...


A fern path
Prehistoric plants


Birds on the water...


Sea gulls
A bald eagle

A waterfall...

Water travels to the sea


Wildflowers...


A wild daisy
A wild rose

Intertidal gardens


Sea plants...
...and creatures


A good way to start the summer.



Saturday, June 14, 2014

Slip Back



Lately I've found a place for focus of a different kind. I'm not sure how to describe this place because defining it diminishes it somehow.

I wrote a poem - more of a canto really - that describes going there.

Perhaps it is a simple meditation. I don't know.

Here it is:

Slip Back

Slip back behind the words
Behind the I and the He and the Should
Find the stillness, the quiet calm
Be there without judgment
Without thought even

Slip back

Slip back

Slip back behind the words
Behind the Why and the What and the Who
Find the silence, the all and nothing
Be there watching
Only watching

Does anyone else out there do this sort of thing?



Saturday, May 3, 2014

Apricot Coconut Granola

Apricot Coconut Granola

Spring is busy. Longer days give me the sense that I've more time. So what if I don't get to the garden until four in the afternoon! I still have several hours of daylight to accomplish garden tasks.

One regular task in my week is granola-making. My family gets grumpy if they open the fridge in the morning and find only a few crumbs of the granola batch remaining.

I make granola differently each time, selecting the ingredients from what I find in the cupboard. Here's the recipe for a recent batch that we particularly enjoyed. It includes dried apricots which give a nice pop to the palate.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup oil
1/2 cup honey
4 1/2 cups rolled oats
2 cups of wheat germ
1/2 cup raw pumpkin seeds or pepitas, chopped
1 cup hulled sunflower seeds
1/2 cup coarsely ground flax seeds
1 cup chopped almonds
1 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup of shredded coconut
1 cup chopped apricots
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries

Preparation:

  • Preheat the oven to 330 Fahrenheit (about 165 C). 
  • In a large baking pan, slowly heat the honey and oil on your stovetop. Your setting should be on low.
  • Mix the oats and wheat germ into the honey and oil, stirring slowly.
  • Once the grains have been added, put in the seeds, continuing to stir the mix.
  • Place the baking pan into the oven, setting the timer for 7 minutes.
  • While the first items are baking in the oven, coarsely chop the nuts.
  • At the 7-minute bell, take out the baking pan and add the nut mixture and the coconut. Mix thoroughly. 
  • Continue to toast the mix for a total of about 35 minutes, stirring every 7-10 minutes.

Apricots, dried cranberries, and raisins - sweet!

  • While the grains and nuts are toasting, chop the apricots. Then add the raisins and dried cranberries to the apricots.
  • Set the dried fruit aside for now. (It will be added after all the toasting is done.)
  • When the granola has reached that golden color, remove the pan from the oven and let cool for 5-7 minutes. Then pour the granola into a large bowl and mix in the dried fruit.
  • Let the mix cool. Store tightly covered in the refrigerator. 

A new batch!

If you are looking for a way to keep your family eating a healthy breakfast, try making some granola. It is delicious with yogurt and fresh berries.

You can find other healthy recipes here.

Hope your spring is going well!


Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Patience is the hardest



A good friend wrote and asked me to share something I've been working on, so I've put up a sachet I embroidered recently. My friend and I used to paint together in Romania. She is a wonderfully brave painter, and I've never forgotten her advice to me… Paint as if you have no shame. Some would disagree with this, but the notion of leaving behind inhibition during the creative process makes sense to me.

Since I've moved to Seattle, I've not given myself much time for creative process. You know what moves do - all aspects of your life get packed away, jumbled up, and tumbled out when you reach your destination. It takes time to figure it all out, and it takes patience.

Patience is the hardest.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Apricot Almond Yeast Bread

Apricot Almond Yeast Bread


It's raining in Seattle. What to do. What to do...

Make bread!

I usually start this process by looking in my cupboard to see what I have on hand. Yesterday as I poked around the pantry I came across a large bag of dried apricots that I normally reserve for making granola. Hummmm...

Why not apricot bread with almonds?

The key ingredients: apricots and almonds


This recipe is inspired by a recipe from The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook. (By the way, if you do not have a copy of this book, I highly recommend it.)

This dough is slightly sweet, made with apple juice, honey, and apricots. Added almonds give it a nice crunch.

Adding honey


Here are the ingredients:

3/4 cup apple juice
1/4 buttermilk (or regular milk)
7 tbsp water
2 1/2 tbsp honey
2 1/2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 1/3 cups bread flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
2/3 cup rolled oats
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 1/2 tsp yeast
1/2 cup chopped almonds (for the dough)

2/3 cup dried apricots (added mid-knead)

1/2 cup of chopped almonds (for crust)

Preparation:

Using your electric mixer with a paddle attachment or your bread machine, combine the ingredients except the dried apricots – keeping in mind your machine’s instructions.

When your machine beeps, or when you are in between your first and second kneads, add the dried apricots. This delay keeps the apricots from getting too chopped up in the machine.

When kneading is done, let the dough rise for about 45 min. or until it has doubled in size.  (If you prefer hand kneading, see my note on hand kneading in my Best Ever Polenta Pumpkin Seed Bread Recipe.)

Once the dough has doubled, pour it out into a floured surface, and give it a good kneading - a couple minutes. Shape your dough into an oblong form and roll it in a bed of chopped almonds.  Place the almond-covered dough on your baking sheet.

Almond covered dough


Let the dough rise again until doubled in size.  (I use a damp cloth to cover the dough while it is rising.)

Baking:

Bake your loaf for about 20-25 minutes in an oven preheated to 415 Fahrenheit (about 210 C).  Your almond crust with be nice and toasty while the dough will be moist and chewy. Delicious!

Moist and sweet!


If you try one of my bread recipes, please let me know your results. Happy baking, friends!





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